ICJ Determination of Violations in Israeli Occupation of Palestinian Territories a Welcome Step

The Center for International Policy welcomed today’s advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) determining that Israel’s conduct in and policies toward the Occupied Palestinian Territories and its Palestinian residents constitute multiple serious violations of international law. In response, CIP president and CEO Nancy Okail issued the following statement:

“The Court’s advisory opinion affirms what virtually the entire world has recognized for decades – that Israel’s 57 year occupation of the Palestinian Territories has long served as a project to illegally dispossess the Palestinian people and annex their land.

International law allows for occupation as a temporary measure in a time of active conflict. It does not allow for occupation as a cover for relentless land theft, apartheid and other grave violations of the national and human rights of an entire people. The Israeli Knesset’s unequivocal rejection this week of any Palestinian state west of the Jordan River only provides additional conclusive evidence supporting the Court’s opinion.

While the ICJ’s action is non-binding, countries that seek to uphold international law should respect the Court’s determination and take all appropriate steps to counter the injustices of the occupation and bring it to a peaceful end. At a minimum, countries should not engage in actions which help to perpetuate the occupation and its discriminatory, annexationist goals. In particular, the United States must end the unconditional supply of arms that Israel uses in connection with the dispossession and settlement of Palestinian land and other violations of Palestinian rights.

We also reiterate the importance of rejecting all attempts to delegitimize, intimidate or penalize the ICJ or its officers in light of this or any of its other proceedings. The security and rights of people around the globe hang in the balance as the institutions tasked with upholding international law are being attacked by right-wing nationalist and autocratic figures worldwide. Disagreements with the Court’s actions may be expressed appropriately and challenged through the established processes, but attempting to undermine or criminalize the multilateral legal bodies that are a core part of the rules-based international system threatens essential US and global security interests.”

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The US and EU can build a more democratic world with sports diplomacy

Raül Romeva i Rueda is currently Professor of Global Politics and Sport Diplomacy, as well as the President of the Irla Foundation, a catalan think tank which promotes studies on politics, democracy, fundamental rights and civic republicanism. He is also a former Member of the European Parliament and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Institutional Relations, and Transparency in the Catalan Government.

In the span of my career, from the corridors of the European Parliament and the meeting rooms of the Catalan Government, to the classes of Sports Development and Diplomacy at the University, I have witnessed the ebb and flow of international relations. Today, as we navigate a world fraught with rising populism, the resurgence of the extreme right, and the looming shadow of the climate emergency, the need for a robust partnership between the United States and the European Union has never been more urgent. This transatlantic alliance, founded on shared democratic values, holds the promise not only of addressing immediate threats but also of paving the way towards a more just, inclusive, and sustainable global order.

The Rise of Populism and Extremism 

In the heart of Europe and across the Atlantic, the specter of populism and extreme right-wing ideologies threatens the very fabric of our societies. Twenty years ago we already perceived these movements, often born from disenfranchisement and fear, capitalize on division and discord. Unfortunately, we didn’t care much about them. Too many people thought they were anecdotal. Obviously this perception was wrong.

Nowadays, we have to confront that reality. The transatlantic bond must be a bulwark against this tide, through coordinated policies and shared intelligence that preemptively address the roots of extremism.

Joint public diplomacy initiatives can counter misinformation and promote democratic values. By fostering a culture of critical thinking and resilience, we can inoculate our societies against the lure of simplistic, divisive rhetoric. According to my experience, sports, guided appropriately, can be an extraordinary tool to that end. Let’s see how, with some examples.

Tackling the Climate Emergency: sports sector must take its responsibilities

The climate crisis is a global challenge that transcends borders and ideologies. The US and the EU, as major global players, have a moral and practical obligation to lead by example. Strengthening commitments to the Paris Agreement and setting more ambitious, actionable targets is imperative.

Investment in green technologies and renewable energy must be a cornerstone of this alliance. Collaborative efforts in research and development can accelerate the transition to a sustainable economy. By sharing technological advancements and best practices, the transatlantic partnership can drive a global green revolution, fostering economic growth while safeguarding our planet for future generations.

As a concrete example I’d like to mention the significant responsibility of the sports sector, in general, and football, in particular, both in the US and the EU, in addressing its climate footprint, due to the vast resources consumed and the environmental impacts associated with sports events, facilities, and related activities. Just to name some of them: resource consumption, waste generation, transportation emissions, land use and biodiversity impact, facility construction and maintenance practices. In that regard, collaborative efforts can lead to the widespread adoption of energy-efficient design and technology in new and existing sports facilities, promoting sustainability and setting a standard for the industry.

Good examples of that cooperation would be the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, USA, and the Spotify Camp Nou (the Futbol Club Barcelona Stadium), in Barcelona, Catalonia.

Both are examples of how green technologies can be applied to sports facilities, given the fact that both projects have integrated solar panels, rainwater harvesting systems, and energy-efficient lighting. By sharing these best practices and technologies, sports facilities across the US and EU can reduce their carbon footprint and operational costs.

Strengthening Democratic Institutions, through Sport partnerships

Democracy is indeed the foundation of the transatlantic partnership and again the sports sector (and institutions) have a unique role to play in promoting democratic values, combating corruption, and protecting human rights.

By leveraging their influence and reach, sports organizations can help strengthen democratic institutions both within the US and Europe and extend these efforts to neighboring regions.

There are several ways this can be achieved. For instance, Promoting International Sports Diplomacy, Supporting Grassroots Programs in Neighboring Regions, Hosting International Conferences and Workshops, establishing transparency and accountability programs (Initiatives like FIFA’s compliance program aim to ensure ethical conduct within football organizations), supporting human right’s campaigns (UEFA’s “Respect” campaign promotes inclusion, diversity, and respect in football, tackling discrimination and promoting human rights), or, finally, collaborating with Anti-Corruption Bodies (as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) collaborates with INTERPOL to fight corruption and match-fixing in sports).

In sum, policymakers and sports institutions can work together to develop policy frameworks that integrate sports into broader democratic and human rights initiatives. This integration can ensure that sports contribute to the resilience of democratic institutions and the promotion of justice and equality. By taking these steps, sports institutions can play a pivotal role in strengthening democratic institutions, combating corruption, and protecting human rights, both within the US and Europe and beyond.

A Path Forward

As we stand at the precipice of an uncertain future, the transatlantic partnership offers a beacon of hope. By leveraging our shared values and pooling our strengths, we can confront the challenges of our time and build a more democratic, fair, and inclusive global order. This alliance is not merely a strategic necessity but a moral imperative. It calls for visionary leadership, unwavering commitment, and the courage to act in the face of adversity. Together, the United States and the European Union can forge a path forward, turning crisis into opportunities and ensuring that the future we bequeath to our children is brighter, more just, and more sustainable. And what is more universal than the language of sports?

As someone who has navigated the intricacies of international relations firsthand, I remain hopeful. The challenges are great, but so too is our capacity for cooperation and innovation. In the words of the poet Antonio Machado, “Caminante, no hay camino, se hace camino al andar” – “Traveler, there is no path, the path is made by walking.” Let us walk, or run, this path together, forging a future that reflects the best of our shared humanity.

Bearing all this in mind, my impression is clearly that a more pro-democracy United States administration in 2017 might have been a better friend than the Trump administration was. What we can expect from the future is in the people’s hands.

Is Biden’s Israel Policy Cynical or Naive?

Today, Isaac Chotiner of The New Yorker interviewed Executive Vice President Matt Duss about the Biden Administration’s Israel policy, and what other options are available.

CHOTINER: Do you think the sense within the Administration is that Israeli behavior would actually change if the United States started imposing consequences? Because you can come up with examples through history of people saying, “Well, there’s nothing we can really do to change the course of events, so we’re just going to stick by and do the best we can.”

DUSS: I think there is and has been a genuine debate within the Administration about the efficacy of some of these tools for leverage. My own view is that we should find out, because even if you are not effective in changing Israeli behavior, the upside is that the United States would no longer be arming a mass atrocity. I think that’s a pretty big upside. I also think the serious analysis is that Israel simply could not sustain this war for a long time if the United States withdrew its military support.

There’s also just a basic sense that—and I say this as a former staffer myself—once the boss has laid down where he or she will not go, what approaches he or she is or is not willing to consider, then you try and find solutions within those bounds. And I think that’s what we’ve been seeing here.

Read the rest of the interview here.

Biden Ceasefire Push Welcome, Enforcement of US Red Lines Still Critical

Center for International Policy executive vice president Matt Duss issued the following statement in response to President Biden’s speech setting forth the terms for a ceasefire agreement now under consideration by relevant parties:

“The president’s promotion of a long overdue comprehensive ceasefire proposal is welcome. In nearly eight months of war, indiscriminate bombardment and siege, thousands of innocent Palestinian civilians have been killed, and hundreds of thousands more now fear for their survival amid mass displacement and famine. The hostages and their families have endured nearly eight months of unimaginable suffering. The security and well-being of both peoples depend on this ceasefire being agreed, and we applaud the administration’s efforts to secure it. 

We should also note Prime Minister Netanyahu’s statement in reaction to President Biden’s speech, which identified different goals and conditions for ending the war and made a point of referring to the ‘exact draft offered by Israel.’ The possibility of daylight between a proposal Israel would accept and what President Biden outlined means that his administration must take concrete steps to enforce his red lines and secure the ceasefire he set out. As it stands, the US should immediately cease provision of offensive weapons as long as Israel continues to prevent the delivery of humanitarian aid and disregard international law protecting civilians.”

The Center for International Policy has repeatedly urged the Biden Administration to pursue a ceasefire by using its full leverage, including an end to the unconditional supply of weapons to Israel and to US shielding Israel at the UN Security Council and other international legal fora.

ICJ Order to Halt the Invasion of Rafah Must Be Respected by All

In response to the International Court of Justice ruling ordering Israel to halt its Rafah offensive, Center for International Policy executive vice president Matt Duss issued the following statement:

“We call on all governments to respect and abide by the International Court of Justice’s order requiring a halt to the invasion of Rafah and to reopen the Rafah border crossing. We specifically call on the United States government to help enforce the order, which is consistent with its own stated position in support of a ceasefire and release of hostages, by halting the transfers of US arms that Israel is using in Rafah.

This historic step to uphold international law and the rights of civilians in conflict is unfortunately necessary in light of the failure of previous appeals to Israel to prevent mass civilian casualties and stop the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. As the Court issues its order, hundreds of thousands of people – many of them already displaced from other parts of the territory – are being driven from Rafah without a plan to ensure they receive the food, shelter and other basic necessities they need to survive.

We also reject all attempts to delegitimize, intimidate or penalize the ICJ or its officers. The security and rights of people around the world hang in the balance as the institutions tasked with upholding international humanitarian law perform their duties. Disagreements with ICJ or International Criminal Court actions may be expressed appropriately and challenged through the established processes, but attempting to undermine or criminalize the multilateral legal bodies that are a core part of the rules-based international system threatens essential US and global security interests.”


CIP Welcomes ICC Prosecutor Moves on Israel-Palestine

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In response to the International Criminal Court seeking arrest warrants for senior leaders for events in Israel and Palestine beginning October 7, the Center for International Policy’s President and CEO Nancy Okail issued the following statement:

“We welcome the International Criminal Court Prosecutor’s application seeking arrest warrants for senior Hamas and Israeli officials for numerous violations of the Rome Statute.

International law protecting civilians in conflict must be applied consistently and impartially. The failure to adhere to or enforce the laws of war not only contributes to an environment of impunity in the current conflict in Gaza, but undermines the rights and safety of people around the world. Today’s move by the ICC’s prosecutor is an urgently needed step toward restoring accountability under, and reinforcing the legitimacy of, international humanitarian law.

CIP calls upon countries, including the United States, to fully cooperate with – and in no way impede – the ICC process currently underway on this matter. One need not agree with the prosecutor’s allegations to respect and defend the legitimacy of the court, its processes and the law which it is tasked to enforce. Any attempt to penalize or intimidate the court or its officers must be categorically condemned.

The United States should also fulfill its own obligations and immediately cease military support enabling the violations of human rights and international law enumerated in the requested ICC warrants.” 

Flawed NSM-20 Report on Israel Undercuts Administration’s Own Efforts Alongside US Law, Interests and Values

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In response to the Biden administration’s report to Congress treating Israel as largely in compliance with the requirements of National Security Memorandum 20 (NSM-20), Center for International Policy (CIP) executive vice president Matt Duss issued the following statement:

“The administration has once again ignored a mountain of evidence and failed to hold Israel accountable for severe violations of international and US law in its conduct in the Gaza war. While stating that it is ‘reasonable to assess’ that Israel failed to meet NSM-20’s requirements in certain instances, the administration’s failure to indicate meaningful US action in response is a clearly political decision that risks not only further harm, but contradicts the assessments of US lawmakers and civil society organizations.

This report comes as hundreds of thousands of civilians in Gaza face famine, continued bombardment and an invasion of Rafah against US warnings. While we welcome President Biden’s recent promise to withhold certain munitions out of concern for civilian harm, today’s report treating Israel as largely meeting its obligations under NSM-20 undercuts the administration’s own efforts to protect civilian lives and facilitate a ceasefire and the release of hostages still held by Hamas. Instead, it functionally greenlights Israel’s continued use of US weapons in ways contrary to our law, interests and values. 

The Biden administration must end its mixed messages and conflicting actions on Israel’s conduct in Gaza, as well as in the occupied West Bank, and bring its policy in line with its rhetoric. It must fully and consistently enforce international and US law by halting the transfer of all offensive weapons and other military assistance that Israel is using in the Rafah invasion or elsewhere to violate Palestinian rights. If this administration is serious about promoting peace and upholding human rights and international law, President Biden must finally and completely end US complicity in the grievous harm being done to civilians with our aid and arms.”

Letter from 101 NGOs Urging U.S. to Restore UNRWA Funding

President Joseph R. Biden
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20500

The Honorable Michael Johnson
Speaker of the House
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Charles E. Schumer
Senate Majority Leader
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear President Biden, Speaker Johnson, and Leader Schumer, 

We, the undersigned 101 immigrant, refugee, human rights and humanitarian organizations, write to express our alarm and deep disappointment following Congress’s decision to reinforce and codify the Biden Administration’s suspension of U.S. funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the principal aid provider for millions of Palestinian refugees in Gaza and in the surrounding region. Suspending funding during a humanitarian catastrophe, widespread starvation and looming famine is a moral and strategic failure that abandons nearly two million displaced Palestinians during a period of extreme need. We call on Congress to urgently introduce and pass legislation and for the President to support reinstating funding to UNRWA.

For over six decades, the United States has been one of the strongest supporters of UNRWA, including its largest bilateral donor. Without U.S. support, UNRWA cannot effectively carry out its role as the largest humanitarian agency in the region. Currently, UNRWA is working to provide life-saving assistance to Palestinians in Gaza who are facing extreme malnutrition, starvation, and an outbreak of deadly diseases due to Israel’s ongoing bombing campaign and deprivation of aid. To date, over 34,000 Palestinians have been killed and tens of thousands more injured without access to functioning hospitals or appropriate medical care. The situation in Gaza is extraordinarily dire, and the need to ensure civilian protection and humanitarian relief is crucial. 

Cutting off funding to UNRWA completely erodes the international community’s ability to respond to one of the worst humanitarian crises of our time. International NGOs and other UN organizations have repeatedly stated that they do not have the personnel, resources, or infrastructure to respond to the humanitarian needs in Gaza appropriately. Continuing UNRWA operations is imperative to address and alleviate the ongoing crisis. There is no debate that UNRWA’s ability to provide services, including food, water, medical assistance, and protection, is irreplaceable and essential to the survival of Palestinians in Gaza, especially now as famine is imminent. 

Furthermore, prohibiting funding to UNRWA not only affects Palestinians in Gaza, but also harms over three million Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria who depend on its services for shelter, education, financial assistance, access to healthcare, and more. Palestinian refugees are excluded from receiving any protection or other assistance from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which is mandated to provide aid to all other refugees globally. Thus, UNRWA is the primary entity serving this population and has effectively been doing so since its establishment over 75 years ago. UNRWA’s unique experience, knowledge, and expertise within the region and with the Palestinian refugee population is indispensable.

Following allegations by Israeli officials that 12 members of UNWRA’s staff in Gaza had taken part in the October 7 attack against Israel, 16 countries–including the United States–halted their funding of the critical organization. UNRWA took immediate action in investigating the allegations and removed the accused staff. A newly released report following an independent review for the UN reveals that Israel has yet to provide any evidence to substantiate the initial claims. While investigations continue, Australia, Canada, Japan, the European Commission, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Iceland France, and Germany have all recognized that UNRWA remains the only entity with capacity to ensure safe and effective delivery of aid and services in Gaza on the scale the current situation requires, and have resumed their funding.

UNRWA employees have risked their lives to fulfill their mission of providing aid during Israel’s continued bombardment in Gaza. As of April 24, 180 UNRWA staff members have been killed which is “the highest number of aid workers killed in the history of [the] organization in such a short time,” according to the Director-General of the U.N. office in Geneva. Due to the near-impossible circumstances, the Agency has struggled to provide food, medicine, and clean water to the approximately one million displaced Palestinians seeking refuge in or around 154 UNRWA shelters. Now, with the loss of vital funding from the United States, UNRWA’s humanitarian aid operations will inevitably collapse, and Palestinians in Gaza and elsewhere will continue to suffer grave consequences. 

The United States should uphold its commitment to the human rights of the Palestinian people and resume its role as a strong supporter of UNRWA by passing legislation to reinstate funding to the humanitarian agency immediately. Failing to do so would be a moral stain on this Administration and Congress’s legacy.



18 Million Rising
Acacia Center for Justice
African Communities Together
Al Otro Lado
Alliance of Baptists
American Baptist Churches USA, Bright Stars of Bethlehem
American Friends Service Committee
American Muslim Bar Association
American Muslims for Palestine (AMP)
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)
Americans for Peace Now
Amnesty International USA
Arab American Civic Council
Arab American Institute (AAI)
Arab Resource & Organizing Center (AROC)
Black Alliance For Just Immigration
Boat People SOS (BPSOS)
Border Butterflies Project
Bridges Faith Initiative
Carolina Peace Center
Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC)
Center for Gender & Refugee Studies
Center for International Policy
Center for Security, Race and Rights
Center for Victims of Torture
Charity & Security Network
Church World Service
Civic Ark
Climate Refugees
Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA)
Communities United for Status & Protection (CUSP)
Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, U.S. Provinces
Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
Demand Progress Action
Detention Watch Network
Disciples Center for Public Witness
Disciples Peace Fellowship
Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, Washington DC
Emgage Action
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Every Campus A Refuge
Faith in Texas
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Haitian Bridge Alliance
Hindus for Human Rights
Hope Border Institute
Human Rights First
Human Rights Watch (HRW)
Immigrant Legal Resources Center
Immigrants Act Now
Immigration Law & Justice Network
Innovation Law Lab
International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP)
Islamophobia Studies Center
Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Middle East Democracy Center
Minnesota Peace Project
MPower Change Action Fund
Muslim Advocates
Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (MuslimARC)
Muslim Justice League
Naser Immigration Law, LLC
National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
National Council of Churches
National Immigrant Justice Center
National Iranian American Council Action
National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC)
National Partnership for New Americans
NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice
Nonviolent Peaceforce
Oasis Legal Services
Oxfam America
Palestine Legal
Peace Action
People’s Action
Presbyterian Church (USA), Office of Public Witness
Project ANAR
Project South
Refugee Congress
Refugees International
ReThinking Foreign Policy
South Asian SOAR
Tahirih Justice Center
The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP)
The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights
United Church of Christ
Utah Health & Human Rights
We Are All America (WAAA)
Welcoming America
Win Without War
Wind of the Spirit Immigrant Resource Center
Witness at the Border
Women’s Refugee Commission

CIP Calls for Israel-Iran De-escalation; Reiterates Need for Ceasefire in Gaza

In response to last night’s attack by Iran on Israel, Nancy Okail, Center for International Policy (CIP) president and CEO, issued the following statement: 

“CIP condemns Iran’s launching of more than 300 missiles and drones against the State of Israel in retaliation for an Israeli strike near an Iranian diplomatic complex in Syria that killed senior military commanders and several others. Escalatory actions by both countries threaten to fan the flames of conflict throughout the region, endangering the lives of millions.

We appreciate the apparent advance diplomatic efforts by the United States and others behind the scenes — as well US, UK and Jordanian participation in air defense measures — to minimize the impact of Iran’s attack. Prioritizing civilian protection and de-escalation was clearly the right approach and should continue to serve as the international community’s objectives in the critical days and weeks ahead.

Achieving those goals requires not only arresting the escalation of violence between Israel and Iran, but securing a ceasefire in Gaza that halts the killing of civilians, releases the hostages, allows vital humanitarian aid to actually reach those who need it, and lowers tensions in the region. The continued unconditional supply to the Netanyahu government of the arms it is using in Gaza undermines those objectives, as well as US and international law.

Netanyahu’s repeated disregard of US redlines in Gaza, moves to deepen permanent occupation in the Palestinian territory, and escalation with Iran are destabilizing the entire region. With American forces already drawn into hostilities with the Iranian-backed Houthis and actively engaging Iranian missiles and drones, President Biden cannot afford to let the extremist Prime Minister continue to have a harmful, undue influence on the course of events. Hopefully, the president’s efforts have averted a wider regional war with Iran; we urge him to bring that same level of effort to save the people of Gaza.”


Six Months In, Biden Must Move From Talk to Action in Gaza War

Washington, D.C. – The Biden administration has largely failed to make the substantive policy changes needed to advance human security and uphold U.S. laws in the six months since Hamas’ horrific October 7th attack on Israel and the start of the devastating hostilities in Gaza it triggered, according to a new memo from the Center for International Policy (CIP).

“While the Biden administration has been changing its rhetoric toward the right direction, its actions continue to fuel the very horror and escalation they speak against,” said Nancy Okail, Center for International Policy President and CEO. “It is well past time for the U.S. to use its considerable leverage to end the human catastrophe in Gaza, starting with suspending its massive arms transfers to Israel while it is openly defying U.S. values, laws and interests. Doing so is not only a security and moral necessity – it’s a legal one.”

The memo, The Gaza War at Six Months: Five Recommendations for Ending the Fighting and Ensuring Human Security in Israel-Palestine, assesses the Biden Administration’s handling of the crisis and outlines five key areas where the United States can better use its influence and statecraft to stop the fighting, end the nightmare for Palestinian civilians and Israeli hostages, and ensure the security, rights and well-being of Israelis and Palestinians in the longer term.

“It’s important that the Administration is finally taking steps to enshrine its values in policy memoranda but it’s clearly insufficient,” added Matt Duss, Center for International Policy Executive Vice President. “We continue to urge the administration to end its reliance on an old playbook –providing unconditional support and shielding Israel from any consequences for clear violations of international law – that has proven ineffective.”

Recommendations to the Biden administration:

  1. Press for a bilateral and sustained ceasefire, leveraging the U.S. vote at the UN and arms sales to Israel
  2. Suspend delivery to Israel of the arms it is using in Gaza and facilitate adequate humanitarian aid delivery, in accordance with U.S. law
  3. Refocus away from “arms for peace” bilateral normalization efforts and toward a just resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the end of occupation
  4. Take meaningful anti-occupation, anti-annexation steps, including consistent consequences for violations
  5. Expand support for the Palestinian people –including for UNRWA and lawful, nonviolent efforts at Palestinian statehood– and for Palestinian leaders who seek peace with Israel