Thu 22 Feb 2024 3:11 pm - Jerusalem Time

ICJ: Countries demand the application of international law and others justify the Israeli occupation

The International Court of Justice held its third day of hearings, in which 52 countries attempted to discuss and examine the legal consequences of the policies and practices of the Israeli occupation in the Palestinian territories.

Although these legal measures are not directly related to the ongoing war on the Gaza Strip, they seek to intensify pressure on Israel and highlight its control over East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the besieged Strip since 1967.

This session was distinguished by the participation of the United States, Russia, and France - members of the Security Council - among the 11 countries that addressed the international justice system. The American, French and Hungarian position - in particular - reflected a response in line with Israel's vision and its denunciation of the measures taken against it.

French justification

Not all countries opposed the Israeli occupation this time, as Diego Colas (Director of Legal Affairs at the French Foreign Ministry) claimed that what Israel is doing to “suppress the Palestinian resistance” justifies its occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. He believed that the occupation is a realistic situation and its duration does not make it illegal, which means that it is not wrong in itself, according to his claim.

However, the French official acknowledged that Israel must grant the Palestinians protection and rights, stressing that his country will never recognize the forced seizure of lands in the West Bank and that it reiterates its condemnation of statements that promote the rebuilding of settlements in Gaza and the transfer of their residents outside.

"The two-state solution alone will satisfy Israel's right to security and the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinians for an independent and viable state. To this end, Paris calls for the resumption of the peace process in a decisive and credible manner," Colas said, adding, "This requires security and international arrangements capable of taking sovereign measures."

Regarding the advisory opinion expected by the international justice, Paris believes that the scope of the court’s proceedings must be “precisely defined” and provide an opinion that “does not go beyond what is necessary.”

For its part, the United States called on international judges not to issue a ruling requiring Israel’s immediate withdrawal from the occupied Palestinian territories, considering that Israel’s security must be taken into account.

The US State Department's acting legal advisor, Richard Visek, said that "Israel should not be legally obligated to immediately and unconditionally withdraw from the occupied territories" and that "any move towards its withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza requires taking into account its real security needs."

Visek added that the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly have paved the way for a peaceful solution through negotiations, which will essentially be about exchanging land for peace.

The two-state solution

Visek stressed that Washington supports the two-state solution, rejecting the arguments presented by other countries that ending the decades-long illegal Israeli occupation is a basic and necessary condition for ensuring peace and a permanent political solution.

The Hungarian point of view was clearly biased towards the Israeli occupation, as its spokesman, Gergo Kocsis, reiterated the need to be free from Israel’s accountability and praise the “Abraham Accords,” blaming the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas).

The second representative of Hungary, Attila Hedig, considered that “the actions brought before this distinguished court may directly contribute to the escalation of the conflict” and that “the potential use of the court in the communications war could leave narrow dividing lines and could continue to inflame tensions in one of the most dangerous conflicts in history.” the talk".

As for Russia, it called for the establishment of a Palestinian state, stressing that “a two-state solution through negotiation, with an independent and viable Palestinian state that coexists peacefully with Israel, would be the best recipe for putting an end to Israeli violations, creating guarantees that they will not be repeated, and reparating the damage.”

Russian envoy Vladimir Tarabrin criticized Israel, the United States and their Western allies, whom he accused of imposing "collective punishment" on the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. The delegate said that what happened after October 7 does not justify the collective punishment of Palestinians by the occupation army.

Tarabrine strongly condemned the defense of violence against civilians under the name of "national protection", which the Israeli government takes as a protection against it amid the noise of legal terms directed against it.

He pointed out that the settlement policy had caused irreparable harm to Palestine's right to self-determination, and that "both parties must resume negotiations" in cooperation with all countries and organizations to make this possible, recalling the mediating role played by his country.

The Russian envoy stressed that Israel is obligated to stop violating international law because “its settlements contradict the principle of the inadmissibility of seizing land by force,” explaining that violations include land confiscation, demolition, and violence by settlers.

Rejection of occupation

On the other hand, Colombian representative Andrea Jiménez Herrera said that what is happening in Gaza provides “a map of horror and destruction as a result of the scorched earth policies pursued by Israel,” describing the conditions in the Strip as “death and despair.”

In turn, the Egyptian delegation touched on the numerous restrictions imposed on Palestinians, including travel restrictions imposed on those unable to reach Area C of the occupied West Bank.

Egypt's Legal Representative Yasmine Moussa stressed that the prosperity, stability and peace of the Middle East cannot happen without upholding justice and the rule of law, that "the prolonged Israeli occupation is illegal" and that "history will judge us on how we respond today."

Cuba's ambassador to the United Nations, Anayansi Rodriguez Camejo, told the court that Israel - as the occupying power - and its allies must bear responsibility for "the legal consequences resulting from the continued non-compliance with international law."

He warned that describing Israel's actions against the Palestinians as apartheid would ignore "the intention to exterminate the Palestinian people as an ethnic or religious group to which the right to self-determination applies."

It is noteworthy that Israel did not attend the hearings and sent a 5-page written statement in which it claimed that the court’s advisory opinion would be “harmful” to attempts to resolve the conflict, given that the questions asked by the UN General Assembly are “biased.”

Without referring to the accusation of genocide or the term apartheid, the Security Council member states - in the hearings - did not call in any part of their statements for an immediate end to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories, as if the plight of more than two million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip would remain a thorny issue at the heart of global diplomacy. She is doomed to wait indefinitely.

Source: Al Jazeera


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ICJ: Countries demand the application of international law and others justify the Israeli occupation