Published: 09:51, February 21, 2024 | Updated: 09:52, February 21, 2024
UN court hears Israel's occupation of Palestinian land
By Xinhua

A picture taken from a position in southern Israel along the border with the Gaza Strip on Feb 5, 2024, shows an Israeli tank rolling. (PHOTO / AFP)

THE HAGUE - Over 50 countries are to take part in hearings at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) this week over the legal consequences of Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories.

The six-day hearings, which started on Monday, are being held at the request of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly.

A separate case was filed by South Africa accusing Israel of violating the Genocide Convention, and on Jan 26 the ICJ ordered Israel in a provisional ruling to take all possible measures to prevent genocide against Palestinians in Gaza.

In the current case at the ICJ, countries including Saudi Arabia, the United States and Russia, and three international organizations — the League of Arab States, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the African Union — will participate in oral proceedings at the Peace Palace in The Hague.

Israel has submitted a written opinion but will not participate in the hearings.

On the first day of the hearings, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki said that millions of Palestinians have been subjected to racial segregation and colonial rule under Israel's long-term occupation

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On the first day of the hearings, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki said that millions of Palestinians have been subjected to racial segregation and colonial rule under Israel's long-term occupation.

Many Palestinians have been killed or forced to become refugees, and deprived of the right to return to their land and homes, he said, emphasizing that under international law Israel should immediately and unconditionally end its "illegal" occupation.

Palestine's permanent representative to the UN Riyad Mansour said that the ICJ should declare in its ruling that Israel's occupation of Palestinian territory is illegal, so as to pave the way for an immediate end to the occupation and achieve a "just and lasting peace".

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However, the Israeli Prime Minister's Office issued a statement on Monday rejecting the legitimacy of the hearings, accusing them of attempting to further undermine Israel's right to survival and self-defense.

At subsequent hearings on Tuesday, South Africa's Ambassador to the Netherlands Vusi Madonsela voiced support for Palestinians. "We as South Africans sense, see, hear, and feel to our core the inhumane discriminatory policies of the Israeli regime as an even more extreme form of apartheid in my country," he said.

Small groups of protesters supporting both Palestine and Israel gathered outside the Peace Palace during the first two days of the hearings.

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A ruling from the ICJ on the case is expected later this year at the earliest.

This is the second time in 20 years that the ICJ was asked by the UN General Assembly to provide an advisory opinion on the issue of the occupied Palestinian territories.

In 2004, the ICJ ruled that Israel's separation wall in the occupied Palestinian territory on the West Bank violated international law and should be demolished, but the wall still stands.