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Dutch Court Order To Halt F-35 Part Exports To Israel May Influence Other Nations, Says Oxfam Policy Advisor

12.02.2024 20:57

Political pressure could increase on Israel to abide by international humanitarian law, Dirk Jan Jalvingh says.

By Muhammed Enes Calli

ISTANBUL (AA) — A Dutch court on Monday ordered the country's government to stop supplying Israel F-35 fighter jet parts that it uses in deadly airstrikes on the Gaza Strip.

Emphasizing a "clear risk" that the exported parts might be used in war crimes, the verdict requires the Dutch government to comply within seven days but retains the option to file an appeal with the Supreme Court.

The legal action, initiated in December, was led by a group of organizations, including Oxfam and Amnesty.

"The reason why we sue the Dutch government is because it's really the last step that we had in order to get them to adhere to their obligations under international law," Dirk Jan Jalvingh, an Oxfam policy advisor on conflict and humanitarian response, told Anadolu.

"We also know that the parts that the Dutch government is supplying on the F-35, that is likely contributing to serious violation of international humanitarian law."

Despite the Dutch government's continued supply of this miliatary equipment, which constitutes a "violation of its own obligations," the primary purpose of their court action is to compel adherence to these obligations, he added.

"And today, the court has ruled, fortunately, that is indeed correct. The minister and the government, indeed, were incorrect in supplying these weapons and to continue supplying those."

"So now, we have to stop doing that within seven days."

In December, the court rejected the lawsuit, stating that the government possesses considerable means in evaluating political and policy considerations related to arms exports.

Nevertheless, the appeals court rejected this argument, asserting that political and economic considerations do not take precedence over the evident danger of breaches of the laws of war.

Before applying to the court, Jalvingh said humanitarian groups had held meetings with officials, including Prime Minister Mark Rutte, but that all of those conversations were "relatively fruitless," he added.

"The Dutch government was saying to us that they don't have enough information that violations of humanitarian law was taking place. They don't have enough information to make a decision on to supply their arms," he added.

The only thing they consistently emphasized is that Israel has the right to defend itself, he said, adding that they disagreed on how the war is being waged.

Cross-border influence

On the significance of the Netherlands in delivering these fighter jet parts, Jalvingh said the country was home to a regional warehouse for spare F-35 parts.

This warehouse supplies parts to various countries in the region, including European nations and Israel, he added.

"So, what they do is they store the F-35 parts and then, further on, supply them onwards to other countries."

On whether the court ruling could impact the sale of F-35 parts by other European countries to Israel, he said that all weapon-supplying countries must adhere to their international legal obligations on this matter regardless of foreign policy considerations.

"You have an obligation on the Geneva Conventions and the arms trade treaty. And you need to be very clear in that you uphold international law in that regard as well and (in that) you can't balance that with foreign policy factors," he explained.

"It should also be that they are sticking to the European common position on arms exports."

"So, many of the conclusions that the Dutch court drew today should also be having an influence in all of these other countries."

Jalvingh said Israel could technically procure parts for its F-35 jets from countries outside of the Netherlands, but that at the same time, other European nations would have to come to a similar decision in this regard.

"So if, for instance, another European country knows that this was the ruling by a court in the Netherlands, was forced to stop their sales because of violations of international humanitarian law, then another country should in principle have the same decision," he added.

"Technically, all European countries have to abide by the same rules."

He argued that the Dutch court's decision could also lead to a good outcome for the people of Gaza, pummeled by months of intense Israeli attacks.

"What it will do is at least increase the pressure on the Dutch government to make sure that they are on the right side of this argument and that they don't contribute to violations of humanitarian law."

"Also, indirectly, it will increase the political pressure, I think, on Israel to abide by those implications of international humanitarian law and I think, that is hopefully, that will be the positive outcome of this court case."

Government lodging appeal

In a statement following the development, the Dutch government said it is filing an appeal to the Dutch Supreme Court against the Hague Court of Appeal's ruling, a decision taken by Geoffrey van Leeuwen, the minister for foreign trade and development cooperation.

"Of course the government respects the Court of Appeal's judgment and will implement it," said the statement, adding: "In the government's view, the distribution of American F-35 parts is not unlawful."

Expressing that it should be up to the state to determine its foreign policy, the government noted that is lodging an appeal in cassation because it believes the Court of Appeal "did not take sufficient account of this."

"In the meantime, the government will consult with international partners within the F-35 programme very soon in order to secure the Netherlands' role within the programme," said the statement.

The F-35 aircraft is "crucial for Israel's security," the government noted, claiming that its step toward filing an appeal against the judgment is "separate from the situation in Gaza."

Israel has since pounded the Gaza Strip, killing at least 28,340 people and injuring 67,984 others, while nearly 1,200 Israelis are believed to have been killed in the Hamas attack.

The Israeli onslaught has left 85% of Gaza's population internally displaced amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicine, while 60% of the enclave's infrastructure was damaged or destroyed, according to the UN. -

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