'The notion of genocide cannot be exploited for political ends'

French FM: Accusing Israel of genocide ‘crosses moral threshold,’ is exploitative

Stephane Sejourne says France does not back South Africa’s ICJ case against Jewish state over Israel-Hamas war in Gaza

French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne speaks during a joint press conference with his Polish counterpart in Warsaw, on January 15, 2024. (Wojtek Radwanski/AFP)
French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne speaks during a joint press conference with his Polish counterpart in Warsaw, on January 15, 2024. (Wojtek Radwanski/AFP)

France does not back a case against Israel at the UN’s top court accusing the country of committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza, the French foreign minister said on Wednesday.

“Accusing the Jewish state of genocide crosses a moral threshold. The notion of genocide cannot be exploited for political ends,” Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne told parliament.

South Africa has launched an emergency case at the International Court of Justice, arguing last week that Israel stands in breach of the UN Genocide Convention signed in 1948 in the wake of the Holocaust.

It wants the court to “immediately” stop Israel’s military offensive against Hamas, which was launched in response to the Gaza-ruling terror group’s shock onslaught on October 7, when Palestinian terrorists killed some 1,200 people — mostly civilians, slaughtered amid brutal atrocities — and took some 240 hostages in what Israeli and US leaders have described as the worst massacre of Jewish people since the Holocaust.

During the Israeli campaign to destroy Hamas and return the hostages, the Hamas-run health ministry says close to 24,500 Palestinians have been killed, a figure that does not differentiate between fighters and non-combatants and is believed to also include Palestinians killed by errant rockets launched by terrorists in Gaza. Israel says it has killed some 9,000 Hamas operatives in Gaza and blames Hamas for the deaths of noncombatants the terror group uses as human shields.

Israel’s legal team in The Hague attacked the fundamental claims of South Africa’s genocide allegations, which contained little mention of the Hamas-led atrocities committed on October 7, with Israel arguing that the “appalling suffering” of civilians, both Israeli and Palestinian, was the result of Hamas’s strategy of hiding behind innocents. Israel called the genocide allegation a malevolent “libel” and said Hamas had declaredly genocidal ambitions against Israel.

Protestors wave Israeli flags, and hold photos of the hostages kidnapped during the Oct. 7 Hamas cross-border assault on Israel, during a demonstration outside the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, Jan. 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Patrick Post)

The United States has also dismissed the case as groundless, with State Department spokesman Matthew Miller calling the South African claims “unfounded,” saying it was “those who are violently attacking Israel who continue to openly call for the annihilation of Israel.”

In a strong show of support for Israel, the German government on Friday warned against “political instrumentalization” of the genocide charge, as it announced it would intervene as a third party before the ICJ.

A spokesperson for UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the British leader thinks the case is “completely unjustified and wrong.” Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said that his country also does not accept the premise of Pretoria’s accusations.

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