The Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar acknowledged the legitimacy of South Africa’s lawsuit accusing Israel of genocide but indicated that Ireland would hold off on taking any action until the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague advances further with the case.
In a speech to the Irish parliament, Varadkar expressed his skepticism about the ICJ’s ability to resolve the conflict in Gaza, remarking, “I’m sad to say I don’t believe that an order from the ICJ will bring about an end to this conflict. It didn’t in Ukraine and it may be four years before the case is finally decided.”
He added, “We’re also committing to support any decision of the ICJ on preliminary measures. These will be final and binding on the parties concerned.”
The prime minister continued, “We do agree that Africa’s case is valid.”
Varadkar emphasized the role of diplomacy and politics in ending the conflict and confirmed Ireland’s commitment to support any preliminary measures decided by the ICJ.
Opposition leaders, however, criticized the government’s stance. Holly Cairns, leader of the Social Democrats, accused the government of lacking courage and being out of sync with the ongoing crisis in Gaza.
She pointed out that while Ireland hesitates, other nations like Germany and the United States have clearly stated their positions, with Germany planning to intervene in support of Israel and the U.S. dismissing South Africa’s case as baseless.
Despite the criticism, Ireland’s Deputy Premier, Micheal Martin, stated that Ireland is yet to decide and is awaiting the development of South Africa’s case, which is still in its preliminary stages.
On January 21st, Martin mentioned the possibility of Dublin joining South Africa in the genocide case against Israel.
Martin said, “South Africa has taken a preliminary case to the court (ICJ), Israel has responded, no one has actually joined that case yet, nor can anyone join it right now – not even Palestine. Because the court is going to make a provisional judgment on that to respond to what South Africa has sought, which is exactly what we have sought, the same thing: an immediate cessation of hostilities and war, unimpeded access of humanitarian aid into Gaza.”
He also noted that Ireland would approach this case in a manner akin to its involvement in a previous ICJ case when Ukraine accused Russia of breaching the Genocide Convention.
Irish charity Trocaire has urged the government to evaluate the risk of genocide in Gaza as part of Ireland’s obligations under the 1948 Genocide Convention.
They also called for Ireland to support South Africa’s request for interim measures, such as a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza.
Ahead of a parliamentary vote on a motion by the Social Democrats to support South Africa’s case, there is ongoing discussion among opposition parties and the government.
Labour Party leader Ivana Bacik seeks cross-party support for a motion urging the government to consider joining the South African case.
Social Democrats TD Gary Gannon and People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett also voiced strong opinions on the need for immediate action and support for South Africa’s case.
In December, South Africa initiated the case asserting that Israel was violating its obligations under the 1948 Genocide Convention through its military operations targeting the civilian population of Gaza.
During the opening arguments, Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, an advocate of the High Court of South Africa, declared, “The intent to destroy Gaza has been nurtured at the highest level of state,” singling out Israeli military and political figures, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as “genocidal inciters.”