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Government leaders Leo Varadkar, Eamon Ryan and Micheál Martin.
Under Pressure

Ireland considering intervention in Gaza genocide case, as Tánaiste seeks urgent legal advice

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar today said that wars “don’t end” because of court orders.


TÁNAISTE MICHEÁL MARTIN has said that the Government will “strongly consider” supporting South Africa in its genocide case against Israel following preliminary orders being issued by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) today. 

He said that he has asked his officials to prepare urgent legal advice on the matter. 

Martin welcomed the court’s “final and binding orders”, which have called on Israel and the Israel Defence Forces to not commit any acts of genocide, and to allow aid into Gaza. 

He reiterated that the Irish Government is calling for an “immediate ceasefire” in Gaza. 

Today, before the ICJ ruling, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that if a war has ever been ended by court order, he doesn’t know “what war it was”. 

Varadkar said that wars end three ways – a victory by one side, an armistice or a frozen conflict, or through politics and diplomacy. 

“That’s why our focus has been politics and diplomacy and looking for a ceasefire so that hostages can be released and humanitarian aid can get in and the killing of civilians can stop,” he added. 

Varadkar said that in his view, a move towards permanent ceasefire would have to involve Hamas leaders and Hamas fighters leaving Gaza and new Palestinian leadership being put in place. 

The Taoiseach said that when this happens, “we can then talk about the day after in Gaza. About rebuilding”. 

He said that in order for that conversation to happen, Hamas can not be “involved”. 

Varadkar also said that Israel must conceded that Palestinians have a right to their own State, and that Gaza must be a part of it. 

In a statement this evening, the Green Party said it “strongly welcomes” today’s ruling and renewed its call for a ceasefire. 

Party leader Eamon Ryan reiterated Martin’s comments that the Government will now “strongly consider intervention in the case”. 

“This critical case starts now and the Irish government will consider today’s ruling, assess the case seriously, and look to make our own contributions as a state that values and upholds human rights,” Ryan said.

“Our voice can be strongest when it is applied to legal structures and UN institutions in place, like the ICJ. That is when we can be most effective in protecting the rights and lives of Palestinians.”

Opposition parties

Opposition parties and organisations in Ireland have called on the Government to support South Africa’s genocide case against Israel.

The ICJ issued a preliminary order calling on the state to do everything it can to prevent acts of genocide in Gaza. However, it fell short of calling for a ceasefire. The preliminary orders also call on Israel to allow aid into Gaza.

Previous to today’s ruling, the Government said it would wait to see what the ICJ said today before choosing to get involved, but the Tánaiste has described South Africa’s case as “valid”. 

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has welcomed the “significant and decisive” preliminary ruling of the ICJ and said that the only way for the order of the court to be followed through is a “full, immediate and permanent ceasefire”. 

She said that the Irish Government must now “clearly and unequivocally indicate their intention to join with South Africa in their case to hold Israel accountable for their “crimes” against the Palestinian people. 

McDonald added that Sinn Féin has lodged a motion in the Dáil committing Ireland to join with South Africa in their case at the International Court of Justice. The motion is to be debated next week. 

The Labour Party has said that now is the time for Ireland to join the case against Israel. 

Foreign Affairs spokesperson Brendan Howlin said that today’s ruling is a “significant step” towards justice for the people of Gaza. 

He added that by agreeing to hear the case in full, the court has underscored the “gravity of the accusations against Israel”. 

He added that the provisional measures mandated by the court, which call on Israel to prioritise the wellbeing of the Palestinian people, are “crucial”. 

Howlin said that Ireland now has a “vital” role to play in ensuring that Israel fully complies with the interim measures outlined by the court, and that the country should join with South Africa in pushing for a “thorough and just” resolution in the case. 

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett said that the ICJ ruling today was a “major blow” to the Israeli state”. 

He added that there are now “obligations” on Ireland as a signatory of the Genocide Convention to join the case and take action to prevent actions that may constitute genocide. 

The Irish-Palestine Solidarity Campaign has said the Irish Government “must now act to meet its obligations to prevent genocide under the Genocide Convention by imposing lawful sanctions on Israel and complicit corporate entities”. 

Christian Aid Ireland has also called on the Government to take action. The charity’s Head of Policy Conor O’Neill said that Ireland has an “obligation” to act to prevent genocide if there is even a “serious risk” of it occurring. 

O’Neill welcomed the ruling on humanitarian aid being allowed into Gaza, and said that after more than 100 days of “sustained bombing and destruction”, which has seen the deaths of over 26,000 people, aid being allowed into the region is “extremely urgent”. 

Trócaire has said that it will be looking to ensure that the Irish Government now does everything in its power to compel Israel to comply with the preliminary orders issued by the ICJ. 

The charity said it is time for Ireland to join the case with South Africa and call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire.