A federal court in California has initiated a civil case accusing United States President Joe Biden and other senior US officials of complicity in Israel’s actions in Gaza. The lawsuit, filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) on behalf of various parties, alleges that Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin failed to prevent and were complicit in Israel’s actions, which the plaintiffs describe as a “genocide” against Palestinians in Gaza.
During the recent court proceedings, lawyers, activists, and organizers, including doctors in Gaza, presented information about the situation that Palestinians have been facing for nearly four months. Since the conflict began on October 7, over 26,000 Palestinians have reportedly been killed in Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, following a Hamas attack on Israel that resulted in about 1,100 casualties in Israel.
The CCR is seeking a declaration from the court that the defendants violated their duty under customary international law to prevent Israel from committing genocide against the Palestinian people of Gaza. Additionally, the group is calling for the US to use its influence over Israel to end hostilities against Palestinians in Gaza.
The CCR argues that the US’s support for Israel, including providing weapons, violates the 1948 Genocide Convention. In response, lawyers representing the Biden administration are asserting a narrow legal argument, claiming that the court lacks the authority to rule on this matter. They cite the political doctrine, which concerns the separation of powers in the United States, suggesting that foreign policy, diplomacy, military activities, and relations with allies fall under the purview of the executive branch and are not subject to judicial action by other branches of the US government.
The judge in the case also appeared to question his authority, but he began the proceedings by acknowledging the difficult situation faced by Palestinians in Gaza. Additionally, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Israel to take measures to prevent acts that could be considered genocide in Gaza and do more to assist civilians. However, the ICJ did not call for a ceasefire, despite South Africa’s request for one when presenting the case to the court.