The UN Court’s top decision adds to Israel’s growing isolation

In 2011, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, warning that Israel faces a “political-diplomatic tsunami” of criticism if its conflict with the Palestinians is not resolved, as peace talks falter and revolution spreads across China Winter.

To Israeli foreign policy analysts, that tsunami has never seemed closer.

On Friday, the International Court of Justice, an agency of the United Nations, ordered Israel to suspend its military operation in Rafah in southern Gaza, adding to a growing list of diplomatic and legal moves against Israel that have weakened its international standing.

The verdict came just days after prosecutors at the International Criminal Court, another international court, called for a verdict. arrest of the Israeli prime minister and Defense Minister, a move supported by some of Israel’s longtime partners, including France.

The order arrived that same week three European countries took the concerted step of recognizing Palestine as a state. It also follows widespread protests on college campuses in the United States against Israel’s campaign in Gaza, as well as decisions by Türkiye suspends trade with Israel and by Belize, Bolivia and Colombia severed diplomatic relations with Israel.

“This is not the level of isolation of North Korea or Belarus or Myanmar — it is isolation,” said Alon Pinkas, former Israeli consul general in New York. “It creates a tremendous feeling of pressure.”

The International Court of Justice’s latest move may not have an immediate practical effect: Under the terms of the order, Israel has a month to demonstrate how it has complied with its instructions. Even if Israel ignores the order, the ICJ has no way to enforce it. In theory, the United Nations Security Council could issue a resolution on the issue, but the United States, Israel’s most powerful ally, has a permanent seat on the council, allowing it to veto any measure. law against Israel.

Taken together, however, the moves against Israel not only show a decline in Israel’s international reputation but also a decline in US influence, said Itamar Rabinovich, former Israeli ambassador to Washington. , as America becomes increasingly unable to deter its allies and international institutions. from targeting its main partner in the Middle East.

“There is a change in the rules of international politics,” Mr. Rabinovich said.

“The rest of the world is on track to surpass the United States,” Mr. Rabinovich said, adding, “They are saying, ‘We can’t beat you at the United Nations but now we have two international courts. and we will turn to those courts. places you have no control over.’”

Against this backdrop, the United States and other steadfast allies of Israel, such as Germany, have taken a more critical tone toward the Israeli government, even as they have tried to defend it against foreign condemnation. outside.

In the second week of the war, President Biden flew to Israel with a clear message: “You are not alone.” In recent months, however, he has expressed increasing concern about Israel’s counteroffensive in Gaza, calling its strategy “misguided” and some of its actions “outrageous.”

You too pause a shipment of bombs to Israel, signaling his opposition to Israel’s plan to invade the urban core of Rafah.

Germany’s position has also changed subtly, with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz asking during a visit to Tel Aviv in March: “No matter how important the goal, can it justify the enormous cost? Is it that scary?”

However, Israel may feel it can continue the war as long as the United States maintains the bulk of its financial and military aid. In April, Congress voted to provide Israel with an additional $15 billion in military aid, underscoring that Washington has generally continued to act favorably toward Israel even as some American leaders expressed reservations. verbally reserved.

Mr. Biden will need to consider any further moves against Israel with political costs. While a stronger stance could boost him in the eyes of the left, it could also allow Republicans to present themselves as better allies of Israel. Speaker Mike Johnson has signaled for weeks that he intends to invite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress.

In Israel, however, moves against the government could support Netanyahu, analysts said. Days after his government ministers spoke out against Netanyahu’s leadership, court decisions prompted those same ministers to come together and present a united front.

The rebukes from foreign governments and organizations also give Netanyahu another opportunity to portray himself as Israel’s defender, bolster its waning domestic supportMr. Pinkas, a former diplomat, said.

“It shows in his story that the world is against us and I am standing firm,” he said.

Netanyahu’s critics, however, say Israel’s standing would be higher if he had not squandered his show of goodwill toward Israelis after the Hamas-led attack on Israel on October 7.

Opposition to Israel’s conduct of war has been partly fueled by controversial comments by government ministers, who have called for Israel to maintain permanent control over Gaza or even drop bombs. Atomic down territory. Israeli security agencies also often fail to prevent Israeli civilians from obstructing aid convoys and ransacking their goods.

Yair Lapid, Israel’s opposition leader, criticized the court’s ruling, noting that, “Israel was brutally attacked from Gaza and forced to defend itself against a terrible terrorist organization.” But he also said that the verdict could be overturned if “a sane and professional government stops the crazy statements of ministers, stops criminals from burning aid vehicles and carrying out secret political work.” Quiet and efficient.”

Israel’s isolation has extended to the cultural and academic world, where calls for a decades-long boycott of Israeli artists and universities have grown.

In recent months, universities in countries including Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia and Spain have announced that they have cut ties with Israeli partners or are considering doing so. so.

“We want to send a clear message that the war that the State of Israel is currently waging in Gaza is unacceptable and undermines the democratic foundations upon which all Universities must build on it.” declare in February following the termination of exchange programs with two Israeli universities.

Thousands of artists Signed an open letter in February called on organizers of the Venice Biennale, one of the art world’s most important festivals, to ban Israel from this year’s gathering.

Although the festival ignored the request, the Israeli team stood behind the chosen country’s participation close it was on public display until a ceasefire was reached. But that did not quell opposition to their presence and more than 100 protesters – some of them artists participating in the Biennale – march through the festival site in April, chanting “Viva Palestine.”

Johnatan Reiss Contributing reports from Tel Aviv and Jonathan Rosen from Jerusalem.


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