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US federal judge acknowledges Biden administration support for Israel genocide in Gaza, but dismisses case over lack of jurisdiction

February 1, 2024 at 9:00 pm

Protesters in Los Angeles, California US denounce the Biden administration’s support of Israel, which has killed thousands of Palestinian civilians, on December 8, 2023 [David McNew/Getty Images]

A federal judge in the United States has acknowledged the government’s complicity in Israel’s genocide in Gaza, calling on President Joe Biden to reconsider his position, while simultaneously dismissing the case due to lack of jurisdiction.

In November, the Centre for Constitutional Rights filed a federal lawsuit against President Biden, Defence Secretary, Lloyd Austin, and Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, seeking an injunction that would halt any additional US military aid or diplomatic support to Israel during its ongoing war on the Gaza Strip.

To support its case, the lawsuit also presented statements from Israeli officials proving“intent to destroy the Palestinian people in Gaza, including using dehumanising descriptions, which is frequently associated with genocidal and persecutory campaigns.”

It was filed on behalf of aid groups, Defence for Children International – Palestine and Al-Haq, as well as Dr Omar Al-Najjar – operating in southern Gaza’s Rafah area – and plaintiffs with families in the besieged Strip who have suffered displacement or the loss of loved ones by the Israeli bombardment and invasion.

In an order on Wednesday, US District Judge, Jeffrey S White – who oversaw the case – highlighted the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) preliminary ruling this month which found that Israel’s conduct in Gaza could plausibly amount to genocide.

Read: The ICJ and the dichotomy between the genocide victims and the perpetrators

He called on the Biden administration to reflect on that point and to reconsider its stance on the matter, stating that “This Court implores Defendants to examine the results of their unflagging support of the military siege against the Palestinians in Gaza.” He added that “It is every individual’s obligation to confront the current siege.”

White stopped short of issuing a ruling on the case, however, ultimately dismissing it on the grounds that he is restricted and “bound by precedent and the division of our coordinate branches of government to abstain from exercising jurisdiction in this matter.” It is “this Court’s obligation to remain within the metes and bounds of its jurisdictional scope”, he stated. “There are rare cases in which the preferred outcome is inaccessible to the Court …This is one of those cases.”

The judge’s decision follows the landmark courtroom hearing in California last week, where several plaintiffs, such as Dr Al-Najjar, provided testimony on Biden’s failure to prevent genocide in Gaza under obligations to international and federal law.

In a statement by the Staff Attorney for the Centre for Constitutional Rights, Katherine Gallagher, who argued the case in court last week, she said that the court “affirmed that what the Palestinian population in Gaza is enduring is a campaign to eradicate a whole people – genocide – and that the United States’ unflagging support for Israel is enabling the killing of tens of thousands of Palestinians and the famine facing millions”.

Gallagher added that “While we strongly disagree with the court’s ultimate jurisdictional ruling, we urge the Biden administration to heed the judge’s call to examine and end its deadly course of action”.

Read: US quietly sent American Air Force unit to aid Israel in Gaza genocide