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Israel should do everything it is asked to do by UN court: Portugal

Portugal's foreign minister expressed "deep concern" about the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, urging Israel to "do everything" the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has asked it to do.

Anadolu Agency WORLD
Published February 18,2024

Expressing "deep concern" about the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, Portugal's foreign minister stressed the importance of implementing international law, urging Israel to "do everything" it has been asked to do by the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Joao Gomes Cravinho also voiced support for Palestinians' increased access to humanitarian aid after blockades and restrictions by Israel.

"For that we need a cease-fire, we don't need any more military operations. So, our request is for there to be no more military operations, a cease-fire and more humanitarian access," he told Anadolu on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference in the southeastern German city.

Asked about Portugal's position to continue supporting the UN agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), he cited the ongoing investigation into the staffers who were allegedly involved in Hamas' Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

Noting that the allegations concern only about 10 or 12 staffers out of thousands, Cravinho noted that if that is the case, "they should be separated (out), they should have to resign, they did."

"We are satisfied that 10 or 12 of people when an institution is employing 13,000 people does not mean that you have to suspend your support for the institution," he said.

The foreign minister went on to say that suspending support to the agency would in effect penalize Palestinians in Gaza who are in desperate need of the aid.

"So we think it is completely wrong, we think it is a terrible idea to stop funding UNRWA because of this problem. Find out the nature of the problem, resolve the problem, but keep on supporting UNRWA," he added.

Israel claims that 12 staff members from the UN agency were involved in the attack, which Tel Aviv said killed around 1,200 people.

Several countries, including the US, UK, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Canada, have suspended funding to UNRWA following the Israeli accusations, which are currently being investigated.

On the genocide case before the International Court of Justice, Cravinho said international law is a fundamental pillar of the international order.

"So we are very supportive of the International Court of Justice, International Criminal Court, all of the big international tribunals," he said.

The diplomat underlined that the UN court's indications, recommendations, and conclusions "need to be followed."

Noting that on Jan. 26 Israel was asked to give a report within 30 days of what it is doing to implement the recommendations by the ICJ, Cravinho stressed that Portugal will be following this closely.

"We will be looking very closely at the result of this and we believe that Israel should do everything that it has been asked to do by the court," he said.

Israel is accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice. An interim ruling in January ordered Tel Aviv to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

Israel has pounded the Gaza Strip since an Oct. 7 attack by Hamas. The ensuing Israeli attack has killed more than 28,000 people and caused mass destruction and shortages of necessities.

Fewer than 1,200 Israelis are believed to have been killed in the Hamas attack.

The Israeli war on Gaza has pushed 85% of the territory's population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water, and medicine, while 60% of the enclave's infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.