Belgium calls on Israel to 'fully implement' ICJ measures

The Belgian government has called on Israel to "fully implement" the provisional measures imposed by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague to prevent a genocide in the Gaza Strip. In a statement on Friday, the government reiterated that Belgium urges "all parties in the conflict" to observe a ceasefire immediately.

The ICJ issued an interim judgment on Friday in the genocide case brought by South Africa against Israel. The court ordered the Israeli government to prevent a genocide and to take a number of measures to better protect civilians in Gaza. The ruling is legally binding, but the court cannot enforce the measures.

The Belgian government "recalls the obligation to comply with legally binding decisions and rulings of international courts" and calls on Israel to "fully implement the interim measures of the court's ruling," an official response said.

"In the meantime, we call on all parties to the conflict in Gaza to observe an immediate ceasefire, respect international humanitarian law and grant permanent and free humanitarian access, to release all hostages immediately and unconditionally and to work towards a two-state solution.”

Source of tension

For a time, the South African case was the subject of contention within the Belgian government. The left-wing coalition partners, supplemented by Flemish Christian democrats CD&V, initially wanted Belgium to join the procedure, but this was met with ​ resistance from the liberal wing. Flemish socialists Vooruit then proposed an independent procedure. The government ultimately decided to support the ICJ's decision in the case and ensure the ruling was respected.

Minister of Development Cooperation Caroline Gennez (Vooruit) said on X that Israel must now open additional border crossings and allow access via air corridors and seaports to ensure that humanitarian aid can enter Gaza permanently.

She also calls on Tel Aviv to be "reasonable" in screening humanitarian aid. Electric blankets or medical needles are being held back because they are considered potential weapons, she says. “This significantly and unnecessarily hinders humanitarian efforts.”

Flemish green party Groen believes Belgium should also increase pressure at the European level. As president of the EU council, Belgium can play an essential role in establishing a united European position, parliamentary faction leader Wouter De Vriendt said. "It is up to the government to take up that challenge."

Peter Mertens of the far-left opposition party PVDA is calling for an immediate military embargo and to stop the transport of weapons or ammunition via Belgium to Israel. Earlier this week, he raised the issue of exporting 16,000 kg of gunpowder to Israel via Antwerp.

Israel and Palestine respond

Responses from Israel and Palestine have shown varying degrees of agreement with the ruling. Palestinian Authority Foreign minister Riyad al-Maliki: “The ruling of the ICJ is an important reminder that no country is above the law." He calls on all parties involved to take the measures ordered by the court.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: "Israel has the right to defend itself."

A ruling on the merits of the case - whether Israel violated the genocide treaty or not - will be made later, but opponents of the war in Gaza see the interim ruling as a legal boost.



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