ON the occupation and ethnic cleansing of Palestine, the subject of “intent” is paramount. Intent is what separates genocide from other war crimes. It is a unique level of criminality that is not often easy to prove.

Yet when I look to the actions of Western leaders following the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling against Israel last week, I see only a pattern of behaviour and feigned ignorance that speaks to the West’s own criminal intent in the occupied Palestinian territories.

I do not know how else to interpret the decision of British leaders to diminish the ruling as unfounded, when a group of independent lawyers at The Hague have come to the conclusion that claims of Israel’s gory participation in genocide are plausible enough to warrant provisional measures against them.

It’s the continuation of a twisted performance that we’ve sickly watched for months; of politicians wavering on directly addressing the blatant evidence of war crimes before their eyes, swithering over whether shooting an unarmed, white-flag waving civilian constitutes a breach of international law when, objectively, they know that it does.

When I speak of intent, I speak of this. Of the politicians who have dodged questions around flagrantly criminal acts in Gaza, there include so-called human rights lawyers and foreign secretaries who will know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that what they have witnessed absolutely constitutes a war crime.

Yet they remain silent. And equivocate. And fall back on irrelevant talking points about self-defence and human shields that, at the heart of it, are irrelevant to the case made against Israel; of conducting a genocide with, as the Genocide Convention defines, “intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”.

READ MORE: Gaza: 89 Palestinian journalists killed whilst reporting

That silence, that choice to deny the evidence, is intent. And more than that, it is the death of any pretence that the West holds moral superiority over the world.

I do not believe this to be simply a matter of disagreement. Different positions, held sincerely, does not mean that any one side is necessarily being dishonest while the other is truthful. There are many areas that, on looking over the same evidence, people can arrive at differing conclusions. This is not one of them.

In the case of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories, there is wholesale disinterest in evidence. If there was, perhaps Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer would have had more to say about videos of Israeli soldiers claiming that calendars written in Arabic were actually lists of Hamas hostage guards; perhaps they would have had a word to share on the detailed plans of Hamas control centres under bombed hospitals that have never come to light.

That speaks to intent.

Following the ICJ ruling, many have tried to spin it as a victory for Israel as the court did not rule that genocide was definitively being carried out. Yet that was never within the remit of the court. That is an investigation that will take years to complete. To argue this position while understanding the limitations of the ruling also shows intent.

Perhaps the most insidious outcome of the ruling against Israel comes in the revenge-driven choice to withhold funding for the UNRWA, the most significant means for getting aid to Palestinians in Gaza trying to survive a brutal siege against them.

Seemingly a ruling of plausible genocide is not enough to have Western powers intervene in any meaningful way – but an accusation that 12 UNRWA employees were allegedly involved with October 7, from an organisation that employs 13,000 people on the ground in Palestine, is sufficient to justify a halt to funding aid operations in the Gaza Strip.

As SNP MP Tommy Sheppard says: “It’s like stopping funding the NHS because a nurse has been accused of murder. It will add to the misery of innocent Palestinians and prevent humanitarian assistance.”

Now there’s a statement that Humza Yousaf will have to square with the Scottish Government’s position that “we have no plans to provide further support to UNRWA at this stage”.

UNRWA is holding an investigation into the claims made against it, but whatever the outcome it does not justify this kneejerk decision to pause funding. To justify that, one would need to show institutional support for the actions of an alleged few – something that allegations against a group that constitutes less than 0.1% of all staff on the ground does not justify.

This disproportionate decision will, definitively, lead to more death and more suffering in Palestine. To withhold that aid on such a spurious basis shows intent too.

Israel, on the other hand, has faced no such qualms about funding pauses from the West, nor even much concern over continued arms sales to the nation even though supplying arms to a state that is plausibly committing genocide is, itself, a breach of international law.

The spin around the ICJ ruling is so concocted, so pointedly obstinate in the face of reality, that it could only have been reached by one of two paths: bone-deep radicalisation, or through the active choice to sow mistrust in a case that the West and its allies have no answer for.

Israel has broken many of the taboos of war: desecrating cemeteries and cultural institutions; bombing schools and hospitals. More than 100 UN workers have been killed in the conflict. Yet politicians in the UK still want to play stupid political games over what constitutes a war crime while, on average, another 118 children are killed every day by Israeli forces – the equivalent of five primary school classrooms in Scotland every single day.

The ICJ ruling was an out for the West; something they could point to as justification for a changing stance that fits neatly into the codified dealings of international relations.

Instead, they have doubled down, and have damned themselves forever more.