Australia urges Israel to abide by ‘binding’ ruling

Minister Chris Bowen says Israel should comply with the ICJ's ruling on Rafah.

Minister Chris Bowen says Israel should comply with the ICJ's ruling on Rafah. Photo: AAP

Australia believes Israel should abide by a top United Nations court’s “binding” ruling that its military assault in southern Gaza must stop, a senior minister says.

Judges at the International Court of Justice, or World Court, have ordered Israel to immediately halt its operation on Rafah, in a landmark emergency ruling in South Africa’s case accusing Israel of genocide.

Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen said Australia’s position on Rafah is “crystal clear”, describing the situation there as a “humanitarian disaster” that has the scope to get worse.

“We have been very consistent that Rafa should not be attacked,” he said in Sydney on Saturday.

“We are very consistent that the binding rulings to the ICJ should be abided by by all parties, including Israel.”

Bowen said while the court’s ruling, and Israel’s response, was a matter of international law, “Australia can express its view”.

“Either you comply with international law or you don’t,” he added.

“Australia believes international law should be complied with, Australia believes the binding rulings should be complied with and we believe Rafah should not be invaded by Israel.”

The International Court of Justice, which is based in The Hague, Netherlands, has no power to enforce its orders.

The Zionist Federation of Australia has already said the Australian government should reject the court’s ruling.

“This order sends a message to Hamas and terrorist organisations worldwide that they can commit barbaric attacks and then use civilian populations as human shields to gain immunity, and erodes any remaining credibility of the (court),” president Jeremy Leibler said.

Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, killing 1200 people and taking more than 200 hostages, according to local authorities.

Israel’s counter-offensive in Gaza has since killed more than 35,000 people, the local health ministry says, with many more Palestinians facing starvation as Israel stops the flow of aid into the territory.

Oxfam’s Middle East and North Africa Regional Director Sally Abi-Khalil called on the Israeli government to comply with the ruling and let in aid.

“All states have a legal and moral responsibility to ensure Israel complies with this order, and that the hundreds of thousands of people sheltering in Rafah are protected,” Ms Abi-Khalil said.

The Australian Palestine Network repeated its call for the federal government to act to “enforce” the World Court’s order by imposing sanctions on Israel, cease exports of weapons components utilised by Israel, expel the Israeli ambassador and recall its ambassador to Israel.

It comes as supporters of Palestine staged rallies at ports around the nation as they ramped up calls for shipping companies to declare any links with Israel, as part of an ongoing call for sanctions.

Demonstrations were set to be held at Port Botany Boat Ramp Sydney, Station Pier in Melbourne, the Port of Brisbane, Port Adelaide and docks in Hobart.

The action organised by Unionists for Palestine also includes rallies at Parliament House in Darwin and Customs House Plaza in Newcastle.

Construction, Forestry and Maritime Employees Union national secretary Christy Cain said breaking commercial and other ties with Israel was a matter of urgency.

“As unionists, we are proud to continue a long tradition of international solidarity,” Cain said in a statement.

Her sentiments were echoed by Jamie Newlyn, Maritime Union of Australia assistant national secretary, who said workers had a right to know what happened to the efforts of their labour.

The unions are demanding shipping companies that operate in Australian ports declare any trade or cargo with Israel.

They also want trade sanctions, under the global Palestinian-led movement promoting boycotts, divestments, and economic sanctions against Israel.


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