Protester holds Palestinian flag at a rally outside Parliament House.
A UN court ruling has prompted calls for Australia to reconsider support for the Israeli government. Image by Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS
  • politics

Gaza ruling sparks calls to reconsider Israel support


January 27, 2024

Australia is being urged to reconsider its support for the Israeli government after the top United Nations court ordered the Jewish state to take all measures to prevent genocide in Gaza.

Australian-based humanitarian organisations have welcomed the interim ruling as the Greens called on the Albanese government to impose Magnitsky-style sanctions on Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and his cabinet.

Overnight, the United Nations International Court of Justice ruled Israel must prevent acts of genocide against the Palestinians and do more to help civilians caught in the conflict. 

But it stopped short of ordering a ceasefire and called for Palestinian armed groups to release hostages captured in the October 7 attacks on Israel.

Greens leader Adam Bandt
 Adam Bandt says the UN court ruling on Gaza obligates governments around the world to act. Image by Diego Fedele/AAP PHOTOS 

Greens leader Adam Bandt called on governments around the world to act, including Australia.

“The implications of the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) landmark ruling are clear: the invasion of Gaza must stop, the occupation of Palestine must end and the serious risk of genocide must be prevented,” he said.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Australia was not a party to the ICJ case, which was brought by South Africa.

“We’ve made very clear our position, which is that every human life matters, whether it be Israeli or Palestinian,” he told reporters on Saturday. 

A spokesperson for Foreign Minister Penny Wong told AAP that Australia respected the independence of the ICJ and noted is decisions were binding on the parties to the case.

“Australia’s position has been clear and consistent throughout this crisis. We have consistently urged all parties to the conflict to respect international humanitarian law, advocated for humanitarian access, and called for civilians to be protected and hostages released,” the spokesperson said. 

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese
 Anthony Albanese says Australia’s foreign policy is determined by the national interest. Image by Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS 

The Australian Council For International Development urged the government to amplify calls for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in the region.

“The humanitarian situation in Gaza is beyond dire,” chief executive Marc Purcell said.

More than 1200 Israelis were killed and 240 taken hostage in an attack on October 7, according to Tel Aviv officials.

In response, Israel’s bombardment, blockade and ground invasion of Gaza has killed more than 25,000 Palestinians, put half the territory’s 2.3 million residents at risk of starvation and left more than 60 per cent without homes, local health officials and the UN said.

The Australian government on Saturday announced it will pause funding to the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) after the agency opened an investigation into several employees suspected of involvement in the October 7 attacks in Israel by Hamas.

“Allegations UNRWA staff were involved in the abhorrent October 7 terror attacks are deeply concerning,” Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong said.

“Australia will engage closely with UNRWA on investigations and is consulting with international partners.

“While we do this, we will temporarily pause disbursement of recently announced funding.”

The government will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza.

Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-chief executive Alex Ryvchin welcomed the government’s announcement urging the suspension to be permanent.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton issued a statement to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day, reflecting on the October 7 attack. 

He said the day was an opportunity to remember the story of the Jewish people was one of strength, solidarity and survival.

“There is a remarkability at the core of the Jewish character which has seen the Jewish people triumph over subjugation, persecution, dispossession, exile and massacre in history and it is that same remarkability which will see them prevail over present ordeals.”