On the ICJ’s Refusal to Stop German Arms to Israel

At the same time, the World Court didn’t grant Germany’s request to dismiss the case‚ in which Nicaragua accuses Berlin of enabling Israeli genocide in Gaza.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) judges voted 15-1 against the Nicaraguan motion, finding no legal conditions for issuing an order to halt German arms sales to Israel. (United Nations)

By Brett Wilkins
Common Dreams

The top United Nations court on this week overwhelmingly rejected Nicaragua’s request for an emergency order directing Germany to halt arms sales to Israel as it wages what the tribunal previously called a “plausibly” genocidal war against Palestinians in Gaza.

International Court of Justice (ICJ) judges voted 15-1 against the Nicaraguan motion on Tuesday, finding an absence of legal conditions for issuing an order blocking Germany from selling arms to Israel.

“Based on the factual information and legal arguments presented by the parties, the court concludes that, at present, the circumstances are not such as to require the exercise of its power… to indicate provisional measures,” ICJ President Nawaf Salam wrote in the ruling.

However, the court did not grant Germany’s request for an outright dismissal and will hear arguments on the merits of the Nicaraguan case, a process expected to take months to complete.

Carlos José Argüello Gómez, the head of Nicaragua’s legal team and its ambassador to the Netherlands, said after the ruling that the court’s decision “doesn’t mean that Germany hasn’t violated… international law.”

“Germany has—from our point of view—violated international law” by providing weapons for Israel, Argüello contended.

Nicaragua asserts that Germany—which provided nearly 30 percent of Israel’s exported arms last year—is complicit in Israeli war crimes and is enabling genocide against Palestinians in Gaza.

Palestinian and international officials say that more than 123,000 Palestinians have been killed, maimed, or left missing by Israel’s relentless 207-day onslaught and siege, which has also displaced around 90 percent of Gaza’s 2.3 million people and driven at least hundreds of thousands of people to the brink of starvation. The majority of those killed have been women and children.

“Germany is failing to honor its own obligation to prevent genocide or to ensure respect of international humanitarian law,” Argüello argued during case hearings earlier this month.

Ten-Fold Increase in Arms Export Licenses

Palestinians in the ruins after an Israeli airstrikes in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza strip on Oct. 8. (Mahmoud Fareed / Wafa/APA CC BY-SA 3.0)

According to the Lawyers’ Collective — a Berlin-based group that is suing to stop German arms sales to Israel — Germany’s government issued €326.5 million ($348.7 million) worth of weapons export licenses for Israel last year, the majority of which were approved after Oct. 7, 2023.

That’s a tenfold increase from 2022. The group says these transfers violate Germany’s obligations under the War Weapons Control Act, which requires arms exports to comply with international humanitarian law.

Germany counters that its weapons sales to Israel have decreased since the Oct. 7 attack and emphasizes what it says are the defensive nature of recent arms transfers. Berlin also says it has robust internal mechanisms and processes to consider the human rights implications of German arms sales.

Top German diplomat Tania von Uslar-Gleichen, who is leading Germany’s legal team at the ICJ, said during hearings that Nicaragua’s allegations “have no basis in fact or law.”

Reacting to the ICJ ruling, the German Foreign Office said that:

“Germany is not a party to the conflict in the Middle East. On the contrary, we are working day and night for a two-state solution… We are the largest donor of humanitarian aid to the Palestinians. We are working to ensure that aid reaches the people in Gaza.”

The German government has been intensely criticized for its staunch support for Israel and for violently cracking down on pro-Palestinian protests since October. Numerous observers contend that Germany’s actions are driven by historical guilt over the Holocaust, with some critics claiming the German government is weaponizing that guilt in order to demonize Palestinians and their defenders.

Israel — which is not a party to the case — vehemently denies genocide charges, arguing it is defending itself in the wake of the Hamas-led attacks that left more than 1,100 people dead and around 240 others taken hostage. Israeli forces are believed to have killed numerous Israelis on Oct. 7 and an unknown number of hostages since then during the bombardment and invasion of Gaza.

In addition to Nicaragua’s motion, the ICJ is considering a case brought by South Africa and supported by over 30 nations asserting that Israel’s Gaza assault is genocidal because it is “intended to bring about the destruction of a substantial part of the Palestinian national, racial, and ethnical group.”

On Jan. 26, the tribunal issued a provisional ruling that found Israel is “plausibly” committing genocide in Gaza and ordered the country to prevent genocidal acts. Critics accuse Israel of ignoring the order by continuing to block humanitarian aid from reaching Gazans as children and other vulnerable people starve to death.

Citing “the worsening conditions of life faced by Palestinians in Gaza, in particular the spread of famine and starvation,” the ICJ last month issued another provisional order directing Israel to allow desperately needed aid into the embattled enclave and reiterating its earlier order to prevent genocidal acts.

Also last month, the U.N. Human Rights Council published a draft report that found “reasonable grounds to believe” that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza.

Brett Wilkins is a staff writer for Common Dreams.

This article is from  Common Dreams.

Views expressed in this article and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

11 comments for “On the ICJ’s Refusal to Stop German Arms to Israel

  1. Riva Enteen
    May 3, 2024 at 11:44

    Between the genocide in Palestine and the Ukrainian debacle of killing “to the last Ukrainian,” the question of this article stares starkly at us: Does the UN have a raison d’etre? China begins the discussion of alternative international law mechanisms.

  2. Francis (Frank) Lee
    May 3, 2024 at 08:31

    Herewith a review of Alfred Noyes – British poet and critic – had scant regard for humanity.

    ”What promise can we trust, what firm agreement can ever be made again, in a world where millions upon millions have been educated to believe that, if it seems in their interests to violate it, no pact or pledge, however solemnly drawn up, need to be regarded by ‘realistic’ minds, or ‘cold statesmanship’, a more than a ‘scrap of paper’, even though its violation may involve the murder by night of sleeping and innocent millions?”

    At the present time, anyone with a scant regard for humanity must view the present situation askance. Such historical situations do not necessarily last forever.

  3. Willow
    May 3, 2024 at 01:25

    Recall John Yoo the lawyer in George Bush’s justice department signed off on torture, namely waterboarding of Iraqi detainees. He’s now a professor at the same University of California law school that once called him a war criminal. Apparently ICJ justices know it pays to say it’s okay to slay.

  4. bardamu
    May 2, 2024 at 23:30

    It’s time they stamped a few thousand Palestinian silhouettes on that wall behind them.

  5. Horatio
    May 2, 2024 at 22:14

    When justice breaks down and murder is condoned the only recourse is war.

  6. Arch Stanton
    May 2, 2024 at 19:16

    Sounds to me that the cabals tentacles have reached and infiltrated the ICJ. They were our last hope because the Dotard isn’t going to improve the Palestinians lot if he wins.

    What despicable times we live in.

  7. Selina Sweet
    May 2, 2024 at 17:18

    I’m aware it is inelegant and not intellectual to say I am sick and tired of the bott0m-less lies
    of Bibi and his compadres and am especially sickened by our nation’s entrapment by a President utterly incapable
    of objectivity in his fawning subservience to Bibi which is probably intensified by having his ear filled with his
    security adviser Blinken’s parochial, one-sided view (understandably unbalanced given his professed Zionism
    and personal ancestry’s death by the Nazis) and his pockets filled with decades of AIPAC money. Had Biden any commitment at all to objective analyses he’d have
    someone, like a Mearsheimer, offering a view opposite to Blinken’s and a professional whose perspective is
    bent neither by Zionism nor by personal reactivity to an ancestry’s fate. Blincken appears astute at alienating
    instead of building bridges with adversaries opting instead for the bully’s attitude. Perhaps compensating, because he’s short
    and slight of stature – physically and character-wise . Witness his disrespectfulness toward China’s President Xi Jinping.
    The stupidity of an inflated ego complex. Then, there is, too, the influence of all the AIPAC money over decades on
    our President’s capacity for clear-eyed assessment. As for the Germans? Like Bibi’s Blincken’s Biden’s – deep
    racism? Maybe? All these West’s white males. Unself-reflecting the lot. Reactive to a one. Incapable of inspirational
    creative leadership. Members of the walking dead. No wonder the young are utterly repelled by such a limited, deadening,
    morally vacant lot.

  8. Lois Gagnon
    May 2, 2024 at 17:03

    By the time the ICJ gets around to ruling against Israel, everyone in Gaza and the West Bank will either be dead or forced off their land. This is all just stalling tactics. These judges have no humanity left.

    • Em
      May 3, 2024 at 09:37

      I agree with your sentiments.
      However what is confusing to me is “these judges have no humanity left.”
      Isn’t this an assumption, that all people are naturally imbued with‘humanity’?
      Surely it has to be developed before it can be lost.
      Morality and humanity are two sides of the same coin, yet this is not the coin of those practicing international law today.

  9. TomG
    May 2, 2024 at 15:18

    It seemed to me that 1) Nicaragua didn’t build a comprehensive case nearly as tight as South Africa did against Israel; and 2) Nicaragua should have built it’s case against the far greater enabler and its neighbor to the north. I’m not sure why it felt compelled to focus on Germany.

    • RT Happe
      May 3, 2024 at 07:29

      A case against the U.S.A. would have to cope with their reservations against the ICJ and the Genocide Convention. So far, the United States haven’t declared that they recognize the jurisdiction of the ICJ as compulsory, and they have reservations against the Genocide Convention, in particular with reference to Article IX. Basically, the specific consent of the United States is required in each case submitted to the jurisdiction of the ICJ, thanks to the Lugar-Helms-Hatch Sovereignty Package ? or that’s my understanding based on no legal expertise on my part at all. These issues, but pertaining to Nica and Germ, are laid out in the “Application Instituting Proceedings” part II. Jurisdiction of the Court, see 193-20240301-app-01-00-en and generally case/193 at icj-cij dot org.

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