Israel occupation ‘insult to justice’

Henry

The Arab League on Monday called Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories an “insult to international justice” and said the failure to end it amounted to “genocide”.

The International Court of Justice is on the last day of hearings following a request from the United Nations (UN), with an unprecedented 52 countries giving their input on Israel’s occupation.

“This prolonged occupation is an insult to international justice,” the representative of the bloc of 22 Arab countries told judges in The Hague.

“The failure to end it has led to the current atrocities committed against the Palestinian people – which amount to genocide,” argued Abdel Hakim El-Rifai.

Most speakers during the session demanded that Israel end its occupation, which began after a six-day Arab-Israeli war in 1967. Last week, however, the US argued that Israel should not be legally obliged to withdraw without taking its “real security needs” into account.

Stakeholders warned on Monday that a prolonged occupation poses an “extreme danger” to stability in the Middle East and other regions.

“If nothing is done about it, there is a danger that it could threaten not only peace and security in the region, but also global peace and security,” said Turkey’s representative, Ahmet Yildiz.

Zambia’s representative told judges that both sides have a responsibility to negotiate a peaceful settlement. “Israel and Palestine have a duty to respect international human rights legislation and international humanitarian law,” Marshal Mubambe Muchende said.

He says the solution to conflict should not be “one that places the blame squarely on one party, but rather one that promotes a negotiated solution that culminates in a two-state solution”.

Prejudice

The UN asked the court of justice to give an “advisory opinion” on the “legal consequences arising from the policies and practices of Israel in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem”.

The court is likely to give its opinion before the end of the year, although it is not binding.

Israel does not participate in the oral hearings. The country submitted a written argument in which it described the questions asked by the court as “prejudicial” and “tendential”.

The hearings began a week ago with three hours of testimony from Palestinian officials who accused Israel of running a system of “colonialism and apartheid”.

The case is separate from the one South Africa filed against Israel for alleged genocide. In that case, the court of justice ruled that Israel must do everything in its power to prevent acts of genocide in Gaza and allow humanitarian aid.

The war in Gaza began after Hamas militants attacked southern Israel on October 7. This resulted in the death of approximately 1,160 people, mostly civilians.

Israel’s military offensive in retaliation has so far claimed the lives of at least 29,782 people, most of them women and children, according to figures from the Hamas-run health department.