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Labor breaks with US on Israel ‘genocide’

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11 January 2024, The Australian, Greg Brown

The Albanese government has again broken with the US by refusing to repudiate a genocide case launched by South Africa against Israel in the UN’s top court, as crossbench senator David Pocock urges Labor to “publicly support” the international probe.

The International Court of Justice on Thursday began hearings on the genocide case, with South Africa asking the court to order Israel immediately suspend its military operations in Gaza.

South Africa is claiming Israel is in contravention of the 1948 UN Genocide Convention, arguing the Jewish state “intended to bring about the destruction of a substantial part of the Palestinian national, racial and ethnical group”.

A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokeswoman said it was “not appropriate to comment on matters before the court”.

“This is a case brought by South Africa against Israel before the International Court of Justice,” the spokeswoman said.

“The ICJ plays a critical role in upholding international law and the rules-based order, and Australia respects the independence of the ICJ and the judicial process.”

This is despite US Secretary of State Antony Blinken calling South Africa’s genocide claims “meritless”.

Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Simon Birmingham said the Albanese government should “rule out supporting South Africa’s unbalanced application against Israel to the ICJ”.

Jewish groups were critical of Senator Pocock for backing South Africa’s case on Thursday.

Senator Pocock said while Hamas terrorists killed over 1200 people last October, “attacks by Israel have killed more than 23,000 civilians in Gaza”.

“Given the extraordinary scale of civilian casualties and human suffering in Gaza and the serious allegations against Israel, I am strongly supportive of the need for a credible and robust examination of Israel’s conduct under the Genocide Convention,” Senator Pocock said on social media.

“The case South Africa has brought in the International Court of Justice provides a mechanism for this through examination to occur in accordance with international law.

“I urge the Australian government to publicly support the ICJ process and to confirm that they will comply with any ruling and support its enforcement.”

Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council executive director Colin Rubenstein said Senator Pocock’s statement suggested he was “out of his depth”.

“Given that he apparently repeats Hamas propaganda lines such as the implicit claim that every single person killed in Israel’s defensive war in Gaza is a ‘civilian’ … while also regurgitating doubtful Hamas-produced statistics about the number of women and children killed,” Dr Rubenstein said.

“As well, while it is understandable that people are very concerned about the undoubted humanitarian cost of the Hamas initiated war against Israel, the fact that Pocock appears not to comprehend that accusing Israel of ‘genocide’ on the basis of those concerns severely undermines the integrity of the Genocide Convention, also underscores a shallow and poorly-considered approach.”

Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-chief executive Alex Ryvchin said Senator Pocock was misguided.

“Senator Pocock has genuine concerns for the protection of civilian life. No one doubts that,” Mr Ryvchin said.

“But lending his high office and good name to a cynical anti-peace movement that plays into the hands of vicious jihadists will not achieve that. The only way to end the suffering is to rid the region of Hamas, which has enslaved the Gazan people in its pursuit of the annihilation of Israel and its people.”

Additional reporting: AFP

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Article source: 11 January 2024, The Australian, Greg Brown

2024-05-08 07:04:10.000000