Portugal's minister for foreign affairs
Portugal's minister for foreign affairs has not pulled his punches with regard to what he considers Israel should be doing. Image: António Cotrim/ Lusa

Israel: Portugal calls for “respect” for ICJ measures and insists on ceasefire

Israeli prime minister dubs ICJ ruling “outrageous”

In as strong a stand as diplomacy possibly allows, Portugal has called for “full respect” for the provisional measures to prevent genocide and access aid in the Gaza Strip imposed by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), reiterating its defence of a permanent ceasefire in the Palestinian enclave.

In a statement sent to Lusa this weekend, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that, following the ruling on South Africa’s complaint filed with the ICJ – the main judicial body of the United Nations – “not being a decision on the merits of the matter in question, and having recognised its ‘prima facie’ jurisdiction over the case, the Court imposes on the State of Israel a set of precautionary measures, which, in the light of the United Nations Charter and the Statute of the ICJ, must be fully respected“.

In this regard, the ministry highlights the measures that the State of Israel – as a party to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide – is obliged to apply, which include acts that could result in genocide against the Palestinians in Gaza, as well as incitement to genocide.

On the other hand, the ministry headed up by João Gomes Cravinho states that Israel must also take “immediate and effective” measures to enable the provision of basic services and humanitarian assistance in Gaza, as well as “prevent the destruction of evidence related to alleged acts that may represent a violation of the Genocide Convention”.

Portuguese diplomacy recalls that the ICJ “also condemned the attack carried out by Hamas on  October 7” in southern Israel and called for “the unconditional release of all hostages” held by the Palestinian Islamist movement, while also urging all parties to the conflict to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law.

“Portugal, as a member State of the United Nations, will continue to monitor this process and reaffirms its call for a permanent ceasefire to realise the two-State solution, as well as the unconditional release of all hostages and the flow of unrestricted humanitarian aid,” the statement concludes.

Clearly, there are two ‘problems’ with the statement: the current Israeli government led by Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly rejected the idea for a two-State solution, and it has equally rejected the ruling of the ICJ, calling it “blatant discrimination against the Jewish State”/ “outrageous” and considering that “decent people everywhere should reject it”.

That last part particularly puts Portugal firmly on the side, certainly in Mr Netanyahu’s mind, of ‘people who are not decent’.

But the ministry’s statement gels with what media reports nationally say is the overwhelming view of people in Portugal. A recent poll performed for Diário de Notícias, Jornal de Notícias and TSF radio showed that 79% of Portuguese citizens questioned want a ceasefire in Gaza, and 66% believe there is no justification for the Israeli military offensive.

Lisbon has seen a number of demonstrations and protests in support of the Palestinian people, and their right to freedom. There has also been a petition mounted, on the public petitions site, asking the Portuguese government to support the South African efforts in the ICJ (as it appears to have done), in contrast to countries like UK and the United States. ND

Source material: LUSA