Live News

[Blog] WorldView: Israel’s isolation deepens on the world stage

Credit: The Washington Post.  Pro-Palestinian students hold up flags outside an occupied Humboldt University on Thursday in Berlin. (Michele Tantussi/Getty Images)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government are under increasing pressure as they conduct a contentious war in the Gaza Strip, which has sparked significant global backlash. The situation has escalated to the point where Israel is now facing scrutiny from two major international courts. This is what we can read from a Washington Post piece published on 23 May 2024, which we are reproducing below.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government are finding themselves increasingly boxed into a corner. Netanyahu is waging a devastating war in the Gaza Strip that has riled global public opinion and placed him and his government before two of the world’s most significant courts. The International Court of Justice is expected to deliver a ruling Friday on a request to order Israel to cease military operations in Gaza, including its offensive on the southernmost city of Rafah. Israeli officials snarled defiance ahead of the ruling, vowing to keep on their fight, but the legal pressure is mounting as the ICJ weighs a case brought by South Africa that accuses Israel of the crime of genocide.


Earlier this week, Karim Khan, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, announced that he had applied for arrest warrants for Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, in addition to three top leaders of the Hamas militant group, due to their roles in the ongoing conflict in Gaza. Netanyahu and myriad other Israeli officials cast the developments as scandalous, and President Biden and a host of other U.S. lawmakers expressed outrage at the seeming equivalence drawn by the prosecutor between the alleged crimes of Hamas’s leadership and those of Israel.

The weight of the evidence incriminating Netanyahu and Gallant, as briefly outlined in Khan’s statement, surrounds Israel’s alleged use of starvation as a weapon of war, its documented obstruction of humanitarian aid into Gaza, and Israel’s conduct during the war, which has inflicted widespread and indiscriminate harm on civilians. “Notwithstanding any military goals they may have, the means Israel chose to achieve them in Gaza — namely, intentionally causing death, starvation, great suffering, and serious injury to body or health of the civilian population — are criminal,” Khan said.

Should the ICC’s pretrial chamber issue arrest warrants for Netanyahu and Gallant, the court’s 124 member states would have a treaty-bound obligation to apprehend the Israelis should they set foot on their soil. The United States and Israel are not signatories of the Rome Statute, the ICC’s founding document. But other Western powers are; a host of European countries have expressed support for the ICC’s independence. When asked this week whether his government would comply in the event that it has to act on an arrest warrant for an Israeli official, a spokesperson for German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said, “Yes, we abide by the law.”

The last shoe to drop this week was the most expected, and perhaps most ephemeral. Spain, Ireland and Norway said they will join 140 other member states of the United Nations in formally recognizing a Palestinian state, no matter that on the ground, a viable Palestinian state appears nowhere in sight. The symbolic move comes in the wake of the devastation of Gaza and a growing feeling among observers of the conflict that the only path for peace is the revival of a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians. Spain’s foreign minister told me earlier this month that it’s precisely because Israel’s right-wing government, led by Netanyahu and backed by ultranationalists to his right, is so fundamentally opposed to talk of Palestinian statehood that other countries in the West are waking up to the need to bolster the principle of two states however they can.

The United States has long opposed any formal recognition of a Palestinian state that would precede a negotiated agreement between Israelis and Palestinians. But the White House acknowledged this week that Israel is increasingly at odds with the bulk of the international community. “As a country that stands strong in defense of Israel in international forums like the United Nations, we certainly have seen a growing chorus of voices, including voices that had previously been in support of Israel, drift in another direction,” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters. “That is of concern to us because we do not believe that that contributes to Israel’s long-term security or vitality. … So that’s something we have discussed with the Israeli government.”

This growing isolation, on one hand, could strengthen an embattled Netanyahu. Along with his allies, the prime minister has long derided the supposed anti-Israel bent of agencies within the United Nations and cast Israel as a victim of global antisemitism.
“This really strengthens the narrative which we have been hearing since day one of this war that in the end, we can only depend on ourselves,” Yonatan Freeman, an international relations specialist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, told Reuters. “And I think that this can even assist the Israeli government’s explanation and description of what it’s doing in this war.”

But it also reflects a certain myopia within Israel’s political establishment and perhaps its broader society, which has failed to grasp the depth of outrage over their country’s actions in Gaza. It isn’t just a “matter of squandering the international credit Israel was afforded after being cruelly attacked on October 7, with its leaders possibly finding themselves criminally indicted for war crimes,” wrote Haaretz’s Amos Harel. “The unfolding of events illustrates the global standing and diplomatic skills of Netanyahu himself. The man with pretensions of being an uber-statesman is incapable of advancing the strategic goals he set for this war, embroiling Israel in trouble that will haunt the state and its citizens for many years, beyond the direct corollaries of the massacre perpetrated by Hamas.”

“In the seven months since the horrific attacks of October 7, the gulf between how Israel defines its security needs and how the world defines those same needs has grown like never before,” Andrew Exum, a former defense official in the Obama administration, wrote in the Atlantic. “My conversations with Israeli friends — almost all of whom believe that their country has basically done the right thing in Gaza, even as they now demand a strategy for concluding the campaign — are invariably tense. Israel is waging a war of punishment against the people of Gaza, and Israelis have been largely shielded from the images of the suffering and destruction that the rest of us see.”

Ishaan Tharoor with Bryan Pietsch


Notre service WhatsApp. Vous êtes témoins d`un événement d`actualité ou d`une scène insolite? Envoyez-nous vos photos ou vidéos sur le 5 259 82 00 !