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No emergency order to stop German arms exports to Israel

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The UN’s top court has thrown out Nicaragua’s request for emergency measures against German military supplies to Israel, saying “circumstances were not such” to accuse Germany of violating a genocide convention.

International Court of Justice (ICJ) presiding judge Nawaf Salam said the circumstances presented to the court did not warrant “provisional measures”.

Germany welcomed the ruling against the issuing of emergency measures to stop arms exports to Israel.

“Nobody is above the law. This guides our actions,” a statement by Germany’s foreign ministry said on X.

Nicaragua had hauled Germany before the ICJ to demand that judges impose emergency measures to stop Berlin from providing Israel with weapons and other assistance.

More than 34,000 people have been killed in the Palestinian territory since war broke out in October following a cross-border attack by Hamas that left around 1,170 Israelis dead.

Nicaragua targeted Germany rather than Israel’s main ally, the United States, because Washington did not recognise the ICJ’s jurisdiction in the case, Nicargua’s lawyers have said.

They claim Israel is in breach of the 1948 Genocide Convention.

Top lawyers from the two countries clashed earlier this month at the court, with Nicaragua saying Germany was “pathetic” to be both providing weapons to Israel and aid to Gazans.

Germany retorted that Israel’s security was at the “core” of its foreign policy and argued that Nicaragua had “grossly distorted” Germany’s supply of military aid to Israel.

“Germany only supplies arms based on a meticulous scrutiny that far exceeds the demands of international law,” said Tania von Uslar-Gleichen, a German representative to the ICJ.

Those supplies are “subject to a continuous evaluation of the situation on the ground”, she added.

“The moment we look closely, Nicaragua’s accusations fall apart,” Christian Tams, another representative for Germany, told the court.

Nicaragua requested five emergency measures, including that Germany “immediately suspend its aid to Israel, in particular its military assistance including military equipment”.

Cases relating to the Gaza war brought before the ICJ are closely followed.

In another procedure, South Africa has accused Israel – which like the US is not a member of the court – of perpetuating genocide in Gaza.

Last month, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin announced that Ireland will intervene in that case.

Israel “categorically” denies the South African accusations, which include responsibility for starvation.

In that case, the court called on Israel to do everything in its power to prevent genocide and recently ordered the country to “ensure urgent humanitarian assistance” in Gaza without delay.

Even though ICJ decisions are binding, the court has no mechanism to enforce them.

For example, it ordered Russia to cease its invasion of Ukraine, in vain.

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