A diplomatic source on Wednesday discussed the way Israel intends to contend with South Africa's petition to the International Court of Justice in The Hague against it due to its actions during the war in Gaza.
The source noted that in a meeting on the issue, all of the officials supported sending an Israeli representative to the trial. "All of the officials' opinions were unanimous; there shouldn't be a dilemma whether to attend. At the moment, we don't have a grudge against the court. It hasn't done anything outrageous. It is obligated by the treaty to try petitions that are submitted if a member who is signed on the treaty submits it. We also signed the treaty decades ago. The court has no discretion to refrain from trying any request submitted by a member."
According to him, "If we were to boycott the trial, they would ask why. If we think we're right, we should attend and disprove the claims - in light of the fact that we are treaty members. The professionals thought that this is better than a one-sided trial where we wouldn't be able to express our opinions."
That said, the source did emphasize that it is prepared for alternative responses. "If there will be invalid or unprofessional conduct and it would appear as though the court does not respect itself and the process, we will rethink things. At the moment, we decided to participate in the process, which includes a request for temporary relief."
He also discussed what would happen if Israel were not to comply with the court's ruling. "I can't say in advance how we would react to one ruling or another; it would be disrespectful of the court."
When asked if the petition changed something in the manner in which the war is being conducted, he answered: "We are not changing, and we are not canceling any operations since, anyway, since day one, we have been operating on the basis of legal advice which ensures that all actions are done in accordance with the laws of war and of course, it was clear that petitions would be submitted."
At this stage, Israel has not yet gained international support for its position, but that is its plan. "The intention is to conduct an international campaign and receive support from countries who, like us, see the petition itself as invalid, outrageous, and condemnable. We will ask our allies, first and foremost the US and the member states of the treaty, to express reservations about the attempt to cast doubt on the manner that we are conducting this self-defense campaign after the terror organization's decision to brutally massacre us."
The source denied reports that Israel had asked Professor Alan Dershowitz to represent it in the process. "At the base of the decision to attend the trial is the need to appoint attornies. We have our legal team led by the legal advisors of the Foreign Ministry, the National Security Council, and the Attorney General. We speak with the attornies who will appear in the trial, and they will be knowledgeable when it comes to standing before the court and will sympathize with us. We did reach out to a specific person, and I assume that there will be a decision soon.
We also decided to agree to a process that would allow each side to appoint a judge. That means that someone appointed by us will sit in all of the deliberations, will participate in the decisions, and will vote with the judges."
The source also discussed reports regarding the willful emigration of civilians from Gaza and denied them. "There are a lot of people in Israel who think Gazans would be willing to emigrate, and in my opinion, those are baseless dreams. No country wants to let in not a million, not half a million, and no other number (of refugees). We are not negotiating with any country that would be the destination of Gazan migrants."
Regarding the effect that the elimination of senior Hamas official Salah al-Arouri would have on the potential for a deal to release hostages, the source declared: "The fact that Qatar did not announce a pause to the negotiations is a positive sign."