OUR THOUGHTS ARE WITH OUR COLLEAGUES, ALL THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL AND INNOCENT CIVILIANS IN GAZA AND OUR HEARTS GO OUT TO THOSE BEREAVED.
WE PRAY THAT THOSE INJURED WILL HEAL AND THOSE ABDUCTED WILL SOON BE REUNITED WITH THEIR FAMILIES.
Our parent body, the International Association of Jewish Lawyers, has made a submission in the proceedings in which the International Court of Justice has been asked by the UN General Assembly for an Advisory Opinion on Israel and “the Occupied Palestinian Territories”. Read the submission here. HMG has argued before the Court that it should decline to give an Opinion.
In response to the recent rise in antisemitism, and in particular the increase in antisemitic incidents on university campuses, the Association of International Jewish Lawyers has partnered with the World Union of Jewish Students (WUJS) and B’nai Brith International to launch a legal assistance project, tailored to the needs of Jewish students. Students who want to explore avenues for redress can contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.In addition, Asserson Law Offices is offering free legal advice and confidential support for students affected by antisemitism. They can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.UKLFI can also be contacted regarding concerns about anti-Israel or antisemitic activity at: email@example.com
The International Association of Jewish Lawyers & Jurists (to which we are affiliated) has issued this statement following South Africa’s claim in the International Court of Justice that Israel is guilty of genocide in Gaza.
Our members and supporters may find helpful and interesting the “Briefing Notes on the War in Gaza” prepared
and published by the charity UKLFI (Lawyers for Israel). UKAJLJ has not been involved in this exercise.
The Notes consist of short summaries of the key legal issues: is the Gaza Strip occupied by Israel?;
proportionality in warfare; humanitarian supplies and evacuation; the position of hospitals; and genocide.
THE MEANING OF PROPORTIONALITY IN THE INTERNATIONAL LAW OF ARMED CONFLICT
Israel’s right to defend itself under international law following the attack by Hamas on October 7 is beyond question.
In its military operations, Israel is of course obliged to act in compliance with the international law of armed conflict, which includes the principle of proportionality, but many take a mistaken view of the limits placed on Israel’s military action against Hamas by that principle.
Proportionality in this context does not mean, as many suppose, that defensive military action must be limited so as to cause no more than proportionate harm to the enemy. Thus, the number of casualties or the damage caused to civilians and non-military targets is not in itself an indication of disproportionality.
What the principle does require is that the military action, when targeting a particular military target, should not proceed if the information available indicates that the probable collateral damage to civilians and non-military objects would be excessive in relation to the military advantage expected from the military action.
This is therefore a more nuanced and fact-sensitive equation than is commonly understood.
Application of the correct definition of proportionality in international law is therefore of the utmost importance in assessing the legality, and indeed the morality, of current Israeli military action and any further action that is undertaken in the future.
For a fuller statement of the relevant legal principles, see the speech of Lord Verdirame KC, Professor of International Law at King’s College London and practising from 20 Essex Chambers, in the House of Lords debate on Israel/Gaza on 24 October 2023 (Hansard, HLDebs, Vol. 833).
RESOLUTION OF THE COMMITTEE OF THE UK ASSOCIATION OF JEWISH LAWYERS & JURISTS
ON THE PROPOSED JUDICIAL REFORMS IN ISRAEL, 6 September 2023
The UKAJLJ is a non-political body that is deeply committed to the State of Israel as it is to the Rule of Law. The Committee of the Association views with profound concern the package of judicial reforms being proposed.
While the Committee accepts that a legitimate and reasonable case can be made for certain reforms on such matters as the reasonableness standard in judicial review, the method for appointing Supreme Court judges and the roles of the Attorney-General and departmental legal advisors, divisions arising as a result of the current proposals risk causing a constitutional crisis.
The Committee urges the Government of Israel to pause its proposals and engage in appropriate discussions with a view to fashioning a package that would command widespread support.
A Background Note by the UKAJLJ Chairman relating to the Petition to the Supreme Court of Israel to Annul the Law Abolishing the Reasonableness Standard can be read here.
A message from the Chairman, Professor Graham Zellick CBE KC:
It’s my great pleasure to welcome you to the site of the United Kingdom Association of Jewish Lawyers & Jurists, this country’s branch of the International Association of Jewish Lawyers & Jurists, which makes us part of a global family.
We have served the interests of Jewish lawyers and the Anglo-Jewish community, and those who share our values, for many years by our commitment to the rule of law and the role of the law in securing a just society which respects human rights and dignity and combats antisemitism.
We seek to explore the legal issues of the day that have a bearing on our particular interests in a wholly non-political and open-minded way, to celebrate the contribution made by Jewish lawyers, and to provide encouragement and opportunities for younger lawyers.
We welcome your interest in our activities, extend a warm invitation to you attend our events and hope you will consider becoming a member.
Please contact us if you have any queries.
With all good wishes