The ICJ’s Provisional Ruling Shows Canada Must Act Now

Independent Jewish Voices Canada welcomes with optimism and hope the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) historic decision this morning, which detailed that provisional measures are required of Israel.

Israel must take “all actions within its power” to avoid actions detailed in the Genocide Convention, and ensure that its officials refrain from incitement to genocide.

Although the court did not call for a ceasefire, it is the only path for an end to hostilities in Palestine-Israel. Without a ceasefire, thousands will continue to die.

The full verdict on whether Israel has committed a genocide may not come for years. But we do not need the ICJ’s decision to know that what is taking place on the ground in Gaza is a genocide.

Testimonies from Palestinians, videos and photos, documented the massive destruction of Gaza well before the intervention of South Africa at the Hague: we knew very well that these experiences could only be called genocidal.

We know, moreover, that Israel’s actions in recent months – though particularly far-reaching and increasingly brutal – are part of a continuum of violence against the Palestinian people. Since 1948, the actions of the Israeli state have sought the dispossession, forced displacement and ultimate destruction of any autonomous Palestinian home in historic Palestine. The war being waged on the civilian population of Gaza is a continuation of this war against the self-determination and freedom of the Palestinian people.

To understand the extent of Israel’s genocidal violence against the Palestinian people today, we need to remember all its historical precedents: the ethnic cleansing and mass displacement of the Palestinian people during the Nakba, the second mass displacement of the Palestinian people during the occupation of the West Bank in 1967, the massacres perpetrated by Isreali forces and their allies during the Lebanon war, and most recently the illegal and inhumane blockade imposed on the civilian population of Gaza since 2007.

While the Israeli state has violated all the most fundamental principles of international law and human rights since its inception, we know that the liberation of the Palestinian people will not be achieved by international law. Only resistance, a mass movement, throughout the world can ensure the liberation of the Palestinian people.

Although symbolic, and although we didn’t need the ICJ to confirm what Palestinian voices have been telling us for far too long already, this victory is real! In more than 75 years of Israeli violence, never before has this violence been exposed to such an extent, on one of the greatest stages of international justice.

In issuing this ruling, the ICJ is returning to the primary mission of international humanitarian law, to ensure that “never again” is more than just a slogan. The system of international law created in the aftermath of the Second World War, notably by a number of legal thinkers of Jewish origin, had as its primary objective the establishment of a worldwide system of protection for the most vulnerable, minorities, stateless persons etc.

International law at the service of those for whom it was conceived, and not deployed as a rhetorical device to justify the unjustifiable actions of powerful states. 

This morning’s decision by the ICJ will at the very least clarify the hypocritical position of Western countries, and Canada in particular. In the wake of this decision, the choice for Canada could not be clearer: respect international law or flout it.

IJV Canada therefore calls on the Canadian government to:

  • Take all necessary steps to ensure the Israeli government’s compliance with the ICJ decision. 
  • Publicly and unequivocally call on the Israeli government to comply with this order. 
  • Take decisive diplomatic action if the Israeli government continues to refuse to comply. 
  • Apply all diplomatic, political and economic measures at its disposal to put an end to the genocide being perpetrated by the Israeli administration. 
  • Impose an arms embargo on Israel from Canada. 
  • Take all necessary measures to prosecute Canadian nationals who participate or have participated in the crimes being perpetrated in Gaza by Israeli forces.
  • Call for a lasting ceasefire.