Former Israeli Supreme Court Chief Aharon Barak Appointed to ICJ Panel for Genocide Case Against Israel

The city of Jerusalem, Israel has appointed former Supreme Court president Aharon Barak as its representative on the 15-member panel of the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The ICJ is set to hear a genocide allegation against Israel filed by South Africa. Barak, 87, will be Israel’s advocate during the trial, which will begin on January 11. This appointment comes despite opposition from members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, who disagree with Barak’s past criticisms of judicial reform efforts.

During his tenure as president, Barak was known for his strong defense of the “otherness” of Palestinians. He was often considered “Israel’s public defender abroad” and supported the Israeli Supreme Court’s decision on the illegal segregation wall in 2004. Barak also defended Israel’s war on Gaza, stating that the military offensive did not violate humanitarian law. He argued that the rules of collateral damage permitted the killing of Palestinian fighters, even if it resulted in the deaths of innocent children.

In addition to Barak, four lawyers will be representing Israel at the ICJ hearings. However, the appointments of British lawyer Malcolm Shaw and Israeli lawmaker Ofer Cassif have been confirmed so far. Notably, American lawyer Alan Dershowitz was initially considered but is now embroiled in controversy following his mention in court documents related to the Jeffrey Epstein case. Dershowitz denies any involvement in Epstein’s sex trafficking ring.

South Africa, which accuses Israel of genocide in the Gaza war, has also appointed former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke as an ad hoc judge for the case. The ICJ’s rules allow a state to choose an ad hoc judge if it does not have a judge of its nationality already on the bench. South Africa is expected to present its case on Thursday, followed by Israel on Friday.

The upcoming ICJ case has raised concerns in Israel, as it may disrupt ongoing military operations in Gaza. Israel has faced criticism for its actions in the Palestinian territory, including mass arbitrary arrests, field executions, and indiscriminate bombing. Despite these criticisms, more than 22,800 Palestinians have been killed and over 58,000 wounded since the war began. Recently, South Africa requested an urgent order from the ICJ declaring that Israel was breaching its obligations under the 1948 Genocide Convention. Countries such as Bolivia, Malaysia, and Turkey have supported South Africa’s application to the ICJ.

In conclusion, Aharon Barak, the former Supreme Court president of Israel, has been appointed as Israel’s representative on the ICJ panel for the genocide case filed by South Africa. Barak, known for his defense of Palestinian rights and his support for Israel’s military actions in Gaza, will advocate for Israel during the trial. The case is set to begin on January 11, with South Africa presenting its arguments first. The ICJ case has raised concerns in Israel about potential disruptions to military operations in Gaza.