News Release

Myths About Israel and International Law

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CRAIG MOKHIBER, craigmokhiber@gmail.com, @CraigMokhiber
Mokhiber is an International human rights lawyer and former Director of the New York Office of the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights. He stepped down from his post in 2023 and penned a widely noted letter.

He was just interviewed by the Electronic Intifada. Regarding the ongoing International Court of Justice hearings on the legality of Israel’s 56-year occupation of Palestinian land, he noted: “This is the largest case in history — more than 50 countries are taking part in this, and the U.S. is virtually alone (but for Fiji) in defending the legality of Israel’s occupation. Most states are affirming its illegality and cataloging Israeli war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other gross violations of international law.

“This includes central tenets of international law (‘jus cogens norms’) from which there is no escape: the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force, the violation of the self-determination of the Palestinian people, and apartheid. Part of what’s on trial here is the political ruse of the Oslo process, which has attempted to subvert international law to the wishes of Israel and its western backers.”

Regarding the South African case against Israel under the Genocide Convention, Mokhiber said that the depiction that the ICJ Order was lacking because it didn’t include the word “ceasefire” is unfounded, since a ceasefire would be approrpriate for a war. “But this case is not about a war, but rather a genocide” said Mokhiber. “The Court’s command for Israel to stop all genocidal activity is in fact an order to stop the military activity, as well as the siege, incitement and other potentially genocidal activity.”

Regarding the UN: “U.S. vetoes of successive ceasefires in the UN Security Council, after which thousands more were killed in the genocide in Palestine, leave the U.S. directly responsible for those deaths. They will be responsible for what happens after this week’s veto as well. Complicity is a crime.”

Mokhiber said that given the U.S. “blocking appropriate action by the Security Council, the General Assembly could pass resolutions that contain teeth, like the removal of Israel from international organizations, the non-recognition of passports, and establish a criminal tribunal to prosecute individuals.”

He also notes that much activity is driven by “Civil society, unions, faith groups, engaging in protests which can fuel an upsurge in activity like boycott, divestment and sanctions.”