Monday 27 May 2024 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Monday. 27/5/2024

The Monocle Minute

The Opinion

Image: Alamy

Politics / Leila Molana-Allen

The ICC wants to arrest Israeli leaders over war crimes against Palestinian civilians. What comes next?

For some, the decision of the International Criminal Court (ICC) last week to seek arrest warrants for Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and its defence minister, Yoav Gallant, came as a shock. But those in the international humanitarian sphere knew that there was little other option. The pair stand accused of using starvation as a weapon of war and authorising attacks on civilians. More than 35,000 Palestinian people have been killed as a result of the conflict, 15,000 of them children.

But Netanyahu is unlikely to end up in the dock at The Hague any time soon. It took almost 10 years to complete the war-crimes trial of Slobodan Milosevic, Yugoslavia’s former president. The issuing of arrest warrants, however, would be seismic on a reputational level. Israel’s close allies, such as Germany and Austria, have talked in circles about the decision, saying that while they respect the independence of the ICC, the court couldn’t indict democratically elected leaders (it can). And now the International Court of Justice has added fuel to the fire, demanding that the IDF cease its military campaign on Rafah. Trying to compare Hamas and Israeli politicians is a distraction; in the end, either you support the international rules-based order or you don’t.

Israel’s chief military backers in the US, UK and Europe will soon have to ask themselves whether they can continue to supply weapons to accused war criminals. Without military assistance, Israel’s current campaign and its militarised policing strategy across the Palestinian territories cannot continue for long.

Israel’s political class also has a choice. The country’s war strategy has created divisions within the IDF; many are uncomfortable with killing civilians on such a large scale. Netanyahu is now the most unpopular leader in Israel’s history. To hand him over to the court and use him as a scapegoat for the atrocities committed in Gaza might be the simplest path forward. If the warrants are, indeed, issued, the international community will soon have to show that the law applies to all, without fear or favour.

Leila Molana-Allen is Monocle’s Beirut correspondent, covering the Middle East. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.

The Briefings

Diplomacy / South Korea

Seoul hosts groundbreaking trilateral summit

Today, China, Japan and South Korea will hold a trilateral summit in Seoul, the first of its kind in four years. South Korea’s president, Yoon Suk Yeol, will be joined by Japan’s prime minister, Fumio Kishida, and China’s premier, Li Qiang, to discuss the region’s growing economic and security issues. “This summit will be a turning point,” said Kim Tae-hyo, South Korea’s deputy national security advisor last week. “It will completely restore and normalise the trilateral co-operation system.” This confidence has raised eyebrows. Earlier reports indicated that Japan and South Korea are in talks to join the Aukus security pact to counter China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific. Just last week, China performed military drills around Taiwan, while threatening “strong punishment for separatist acts”. Against such a tense backdrop, it’s impressive that the meeting is taking place at all.

Image: Getty Images

Tourism / Spain

Cruise control: Barcelona’s efforts to rein in over-tourism

It has been several years since discussions about over-tourism hit their peak but the debate is far from over. Hot on the heels of Venice’s decision last month to impose an entry fee on visitors who aren’t spending the night in the city, Barcelona has announced that it will seek to regulate cruise-ship tourism. More than 800 ships and about 3.5 million passengers arrived in the city in 2023.

Jordi Valls, the Catalan city’s deputy mayor, warns that such high levels are not sustainable. The local government is working to reach a deal with the port to limit numbers, which have steadily been rising. As in Venice, a key issue is that only half of the cruise passengers actually stay in the city, meaning that Barcelona has to deal with the footfall without receiving the full economic benefits. The city joins a growing list of popular destinations, including Amsterdam, that are rethinking mass tourism.

Image: Getty Images

Culture / Italy

Italy’s government attempts to preserve cultural heritage with Verdi villa seizure

Italy’s minister of culture, Gennaro Sangiuliano, has notified the descendants of Giuseppe Verdi that the state will seize the composer’s former villa near Piacenza rather than let it be auctioned off to private owners. The property’s current owners, who have two months to appeal the purchase, will be paid between €8m and €9m in compensation. According to Sangiuliano, the decision was made to protect the house from deterioration.

Verdi created many of his best-known works, including La Traviata, at the villa, which contains never-before-seen relics from the artist’s life. The state plans to turn the 19th-century property into a museum that will be run by a foundation, with representatives from Emilia-Romagna and local town councils. The seizure has been painted as a step towards conserving Verdi’s legacy by Giorgia Meloni’s conservative government, which prides itself on preserving Italian heritage.

Beyond the Headlines

Olympians / Paris

We meet the athletes stepping up to the plate at this year’s Olympics

It’s full steam ahead for the summer Games. In Monocle’s June issue we talk to seven contenders – from a wrestler who is also an MP to a “sports soldier” – who tell us about their unique journeys to Paris 2024.

Subscribe to read the full article or log in to your account if you’re already a subscriber.

Monocle Films / Monocle preview

New issue

Monocle’s June issue features an art special that highlights the emerging scene in Tunis and a silo-turned-museum in Norway. We also visit the Danish paint giant Hempel, which manufactures anything from luxury, interior varnishes to cutting-edge coatings. Plus: the reopening of Switzerland’s largest cinema and an interview with Swatch’s CEO.


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