A British professor has been appointed by Israel to represent the apartheid state in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against South Africa’s accusations of genocide. Professor Malcolm Shaw, an expert in international law has been selected ahead of American lawyer, Alan Dershowitz, who was widely reported to have been Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s choice to lead the defence.
It is not clear if ongoing controversy around Dershowitz influenced the selection. The 85-year-old, who defended convicted child sex trafficker, Jeffrey Epstein, convicted rapist Harvey Weinstein and the impeached former US President Donald Trump, was included in the list of names revealed in unsealed court records related to the Epstein case.
Shaw’s appointment was confirmed by an Israeli official on X. He is one of four lawyers chosen to represent Tel-Aviv at the hearings. A leading authority in international law, Shaw is said to have provided legal advice and assistance to the Israeli government in several cases in the past. The British professor has also advised other government and international organisations, appearing before the ICJ, the European Court of Human Rights and the highest court in Britain.
The case, initiated by South Africa, alleges war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide by Israel. In the initial phase, Shaw will confront South Africa’s plea for an injunction demanding Israel to cease its operations in Gaza. The ICJ will hold public hearings in proceedings on 11 and 12 January.
Critics have pointed out that the very fact Israel has chosen to defend itself at the ICJ – a UN sponsored body – and is a signatory to the Genocide Convention makes it harder for the occupying state to brush aside findings against it. Some say that it is a high-risk move by Israel.