Britain’s Self-Aggrandizing Jerusalem Policy, and Why the New Prime Minister Should End It

Calling on the new British prime minister, Rishi Sunak, to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Stephen Daisley writes:

The UK’s policy, one shared by the overwhelming majority of countries, is to . . . pretend that Jerusalem is not the capital of Israel because we fear doing otherwise would concede that international law, or at least the dominant reading of it, has failed as a conceptual framework in the most scrutinized conflict of modern times. We wish to see a viable Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria, Gaza, and eastern Jerusalem and fret that acknowledging Israel’s capital would prejudice or hinder that.

This is an error born of a paradox. Mindful of its history in Palestine, Britain wishes to be uninvolved in the conflict but uninvolved in a way that aggrandizes its status in the region. By withholding recognition of Jerusalem, we tell ourselves, the UK is advancing the cause of peace. . . . The Palestinian conflict with Israel will end when the Palestinians accept their own state alongside the Jewish state. Nothing we say or do is likely to influence them either way. This is their conflict, not ours.

Those of us who advocate recognition tend to do so in political, historical, moral, legal, and, yes, emotional terms. But there is also a realist case. . . . Does upholding the failed status quo advance or hinder our material interests? Israeli companies support thousands of jobs in the UK. London, Scotland, and the northwest alone sell half a billion in goods to Israel every year. The Israeli pharmaceutical giant Teva provides one in every six medicines prescribed on the NHS. Mossad has supplied us with information that has helped break up terrorist cells in London. It is plain where our interests lie.

Read more at Spectator

More about: Europe and Israel, International Law, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Jerusalem, United Kingdom


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