LONDON: More must be done by the global community to hold Israel accountable for committing possible “genocide” and breaches of international law against Palestinians, a panel of legal experts said on Thursday.
Speakers from across the legal and human rights sectors were discussing the latest violence in Gaza and East Jerusalem between Israel and Palestinian group Hamas during a Cambridge Centre for Palestine Studies panel.
Palestinian human rights advocate Raji Sourani said too little action was being taken by global governments to assist ordinary Palestinian people, who he said were being killed by “one of the most technically advanced armies in the world,” in spite of a wave of international grassroots solidarity movements with Palestine and protests against Israel’s actions in recent days.
The question of whether Israel’s conduct in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and Jerusalem should be constituted legally as genocide had to now be seriously discussed at a high level, according to Prof. John Dugard, emeritus professor of international law at Leiden University in the Netherlands.
He also called into question the complicity of the US and other Western governments in Israel’s actions by their continued silence and inaction on the global stage.
Israel had been emboldened to act in an increasingly aggressive way against Palestinian people because the Israeli-Palestinian crisis has for a long time been “distorted and decontextualized” globally on a “legal, political and moral basis,” said Princeton University Prof. Richard Falk.
He also echoed Dugard’s disappointment at the apparent lack of condemnation of Israel from the US but also the UN Security Council.
Prof. Christine Chinkin, a leading expert on international and human rights law, said she felt “ashamed” about working in the international legal profession at the moment, when the law is clear but not being applied and the international community appears to be allowing Israel to “act with impunity.”
Sourani said any potential cease-fire agreed in the coming days would mean nothing to the long-term prospects of ending the crisis, or the future of the Palestinian people, and would be almost like “rewarding” Israel for its actions, while Falk added that a cease-fire could not underwrite any of the “previous illegality” of Israel’s actions.