Turkish-Israel Normalization Is Good News for the U.S.

Two weeks ago, Jerusalem and Ankara announced the resumption of full diplomatic ties, which were severed in 2018. Brenda Shaffer examines the rapprochement from an American perspective:

Washington stands to gain by having two of its regional allies end a yearslong discord in the strategically important east Mediterranean basin, which is a flashpoint of strategic competition between the United States and Russia. Most of the countries around the east Mediterranean basin are U.S. allies, and thus it is in Washington’s strategic interest when its allies work together. Reduced tensions between Turkey and Israel also mean and that Washington does not need to waste time mitigating a conflict between its allies.

The change in relations between Turkey and Israel is also likely to project onto the situation in Syria—where both seek stability given their borders with that country. Both Israel and Ankara would like to see Iranian military units removed from Syria, or at least a reduced presence. Iran is clearly unhappy about the open cooperation between Turkey and Israel.

In contrast, Azerbaijan’s strategic situation is greatly improved by the reconciliation of its two closest allies. President Ilham Aliyev played a major role in the normalization process. Turkish-Israeli cooperation before and during the 2020 Azerbaijan-Armenia war also contributed to the return of cooperative relations between Ankara and Jerusalem. Azerbaijan’s triumph in the war represented a knockout victory for Western arms technology in the clash between Russian-produced systems used by Armenia, on one hand, and those of the NATO member Turkey and the U.S. ally Israel, on the other.

Read more at Atlantic Council

More about: Azerbaijan, Iran, Israel diplomacy, Turkey, U.S. Foreign policy

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