Israel concerned over international judicial campaign against settlers

A senior legal official says targeting 'violent settlers' is part of larger effort to force Israel into negotiations on future Palestinian State but as legal challenges mount, they warn of steps that could be taken that would harm Israel's international standing

Tova Zimuky|
Targeting violent settlers for sanction by Israeli allies are part of a pressure campaign to force negotiations on a future Palestinian State, an official says. After the U.S. named three West Bank settlers it is sanctioning last week, and France announced on Tuesday that it was sanctioning 28 settlers, Germany on Wednesday said it was considering taking the same action.
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A senior legal source said that European countries were under the impression that Israel was not dealing appropriately with the settlers' violations of the law, and therefore decided to take action themselves against vigilantes.
The case against Israel in the International Court of Justice in the Hague, serves as an example of legal challenges that are expected during its war in Gaza. On Tuesday, South Africa filed an urgent request to the ICJ to prevent the IDF's operations in Rafah. and in Holland, a court ruled to deny the sale of parts for F-35 aircraft to the IDF following a petition filed by human rights organizations, claiming that Israel is violating international law in its fighting in Gaza.
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בית הדין בהאג
בית הדין בהאג
International Court of Justice in The Hague
(Photo: Reuters)
After the provisional measures hearing in the ICJ in January, the International Court of Justice in The Hague will discuss the Palestinian Authority's request for an opinion regarding the "legality of the ongoing Israeli occupation of the West Bank." Since this is an "opinion" and not a request for a ruling, the hearing will not be the same as the hearing that took place during the past month after the complaint filed by South Africa against Israel for "committing genocide in Gaza."
The discussion is supposed to take place for months, if not years, but sources in the legal and political system said that this was another part of the 'legal warfare' that Palestinian organizations were conducting against Israel in the international arena with the aim of vilifying Israel and adding to its delegitimization."
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נוער הגבעות
נוער הגבעות
U.S., UK, and France impose sanctions on settlers
(Photo: AFP)
The UN General Assembly agreed last year to ask for the IJC's opinion on the matter after a majority of countries supported the decision. In the requested opinion, the court is required to find out the "Israeli measures to change the demographic composition, character and status of Jerusalem, and the adoption of legislation and discriminatory measures" and "their influence on the legal status of the occupation."
A senior political official said that this is an "advisory opinion that is not binding on Israel." However, the ICJ is a a prestigious international institution, and its opinions could be used as a weapon against Israel. In addition, the discussion itself may benefit organizations opposed to Israel, such as the BDS movement.
Prof. Amichai Cohen, a senior fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute and an expert in international law, said economic sanctions are used by Western countries, especially in the last decade, as a major enforcement tool against countries seen as serial violators of international law which mainly include Russia, Iran, North Korea and Venezuela.
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דרום אפריקה נגד ישראל בדיון בהאג
דרום אפריקה נגד ישראל בדיון בהאג
South Africa demanded an immediate cease-fire in Gaza from Israel
(Photo: AP / Patrick Post, UN, EPA/REMKO DE WAAL)
Sanctions can be imposed on countries or on individuals in countries and include freezing assets of individuals and corporations (as was done to the settlers), an indefinite ban on making transactions with certain people or companies (including the transfer of funds of any kind), a ban on the movement of individuals within their territory, as well as a ban on the export or import of goods or Services to certain countries.
The sanctions thus far affect only the settlers on whom they were imposed. However, the main problem is labeling Israel as a country that should be sanctioned due to its unwillingness or inability to deal with the local incidents.
This characterization of Israel may lead to international institutions, such as the International Criminal Court, to intervene in Israel's security situation, especially in the West Bank. It may even challenge Israel's long-standing policy that IDF soldiers should not be investigated in international court, since Israel's justice system is independent.
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