Palestine seeks end to Israeli occupation at ICJ hearings during Israel-Gaza conflict

In a deposition before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki urged judges to order an end to Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories. Palestinian representatives have joined in the call, seeking the cessation of the occupation and Israel’s system of apartheid enforced in the territory.

Representatives from Palestine, including Foreign Minister al-Maliki and UN envoy Riyad Mansour, along with academic and legal experts, participated in the hearings held in The Hague. These sessions are separate from the genocide case filed by South Africa against Israel for its ongoing deadly war on Gaza, and aim to determine the legal consequences of Israel’s decades-long occupation of Palestinian territories.

The UN General Assembly (UNGA) passed a resolution in December 2022, with 87 votes in favor, calling on the ICJ to provide an advisory opinion on Israel’s 57-year occupation of the Palestinian territories.

Bernard Smith, reporting from the Hague for Al Jazeera, indicated that all submissions must address two questions concerning the legal consequences of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories and the impact of its policies on the legal status of the occupation.

Mansour, speaking at the hearing, emphasized the need for Israel to face consequences for actions that contravene international law, and also highlighted the failure of international law to protect Palestinian children.

Additionally, Palestine’s representatives and Amnesty International detailed how Israel’s policies and practices in the occupied territories amount to apartheid. The ICJ is tasked with determining whether Israel intends to turn its occupation into a de facto annexation.

Following the conclusion of the hearings on February 26, the ICJ judges will deliberate for several months before issuing an advisory opinion. This request marks the second time that the ICJ has been asked for an advisory opinion related to the occupied Palestinian territory.

Israel has not participated in the week’s hearings and responded negatively to the 2022 UN request, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticizing it as “despicable” and “disgraceful”.

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