When Will the West Stop Giving Mahmoud Abbas a Free Pass?

The PA president may not believe in the murderous ideology of Hamas, and he has proved willing to cooperate with Israel in preventing terrorist attacks emanating from the West Bank; but, writes David Keyes, he is no moderate, much less a benign influence, and:

Abbas, if one listens to leaders of the free world, is a moderate, reformer, and ally. He is better than Hamas, after all, isn’t he? Never mind that Abbas said in 2013, “There is no difference between our policies and those of Hamas.” The point is this: being better than a genocidal terrorist organization does not a “moderate” make. Pretending it does demeans the word. It is condescending to Palestinians and insulting to true moderates. . . .

Under Abbas’s rule, the Palestinian Authority has arrested activists for Facebook posts and jailed atheists. Two weeks ago, a twenty-two-year-old student was imprisoned for insulting the head of the Palestinian soccer federation. Torture is rampant and Abbas refuses to hold elections, even though his term expired six years ago. . . .

Next to issues like war and peace, civil society and Internet freedom can seem quaint and unimportant. This is a grave mistake. The free exchange of ideas is the bedrock of public reasoning and social progress. It is also a bulwark against extremism. But how can moderate voices succeed if they are always silenced?

A modest solution is to begin by using the West’s immense political and economic leverage to encourage real democratic reform in the Palestinian Authority. Right now, the United States supplies about 10 percent of the PA’s annual budget of over $4.2 billion, yet reform has been cosmetic at best.

Read more at Daily Beast

More about: Arab democracy, Freedom of Speech, Israel & Zionism, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority

The ICJ’s Vice-President Explains What’s Wrong with Its Recent Ruling against Israel

It should be obvious to anyone with even rudimentary knowledge of the Gaza war that Israel is not committing genocide there, or anything even remotely akin to it. In response to such spurious accusations, it’s often best to focus on the mockery they make of international law itself, or on how Israel can most effectively combat them. Still, it is also worth stopping to consider the legal case on its own terms. No one has done this quite so effectively, to my knowledge, as the Ugandan jurist Julia Sebutinde, who is the vice-president of the ICJ and the only one of its judges to rule unequivocally in Israel’s favor both in this case and in the previous one where it found accusations of genocide “plausible.”

Sebutinde begins by questioning the appropriateness of the court ruling on this issue at all:

Once again, South Africa has invited the Court to micromanage the conduct of hostilities between Israel and Hamas. Such hostilities are exclusively governed by the laws of war (international humanitarian law) and international human-rights law, areas where the Court lacks jurisdiction in this case.

The Court should also avoid trying to enforce its own orders. . . . Is the Court going to reaffirm its earlier provisional measures every time a party runs to it with allegations of a breach of its provisional measures? I should think not.

Sebutinde also emphasizes the absurdity of hearing this case after Israel has taken “multiple concrete actions” to alleviate the suffering of Gazan civilians since the ICJ’s last ruling. In fact, she points out, “the evidence actually shows a gradual improvement in the humanitarian situation in Gaza since the Court’s order.” She brings much evidence in support of these points.

She concludes her dissent by highlighting the procedural irregularities of the case, including a complete failure to respect the basic rights of the accused:

I find it necessary to note my serious concerns regarding the manner in which South Africa’s request and incidental oral hearings were managed by the Court, resulting in Israel not having sufficient time to file its written observations on the request. In my view, the Court should have consented to Israel’s request to postpone the oral hearings to the following week to allow for Israel to have sufficient time to fully respond to South Africa’s request and engage counsel. Regrettably, as a result of the exceptionally abbreviated timeframe for the hearings, Israel could not be represented by its chosen counsel, who were unavailable on the dates scheduled by the Court.

It is also regrettable that Israel was required to respond to a question posed by a member of the Court over the Jewish Sabbath. The Court’s decisions in this respect bear upon the procedural equality between the parties and the good administration of justice by the Court.

Read more at International Court of Justice

More about: Gaza War 2023, ICC, International Law