International Court of Justice to Conduct Hearings on Israel’s Occupation of Palestinian Territories

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is set to begin historic hearings into the legality of Israel’s 57-year occupation of the Palestinian territories. The hearings will take place at The Hague and come as Israel continues its war on Gaza. The case is separate from South Africa’s genocide complaint and focuses on Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem since 1967.

The Palestinian representatives argue that the Israeli occupation is illegal because it has violated international law, specifically the prohibition on territorial conquest, Palestinians’ right to self-determination, and a system of racial discrimination and apartheid.

Omar Awadallah, head of the UN organizations department in the Palestinian Foreign Ministry, stated that an advisory opinion from the court would provide tools to confront the illegalities of the occupation using peaceful international law methods. After the Palestinians present their arguments, 51 countries and three organizations will address the judges.

Israel will not present an oral argument but has sent written observations to the court. The case was brought forward after the UN General Assembly voted for a non-binding advisory opinion on the Israeli occupation.

Israel captured the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza in 1967 and maintains control over the areas, including building settlements which are home to over 500,000 Jewish settlers. The international community considers the settlements to be illegal, and Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem is not internationally recognized.

This is the second time the UNGA has asked the ICJ for an advisory opinion related to the occupied Palestinian territory. The court previously ruled in 2004 that Israel’s separation wall in the West Bank violated international law, though it remains standing.

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