ICJ asked to stop Israel's occupation of Palestinian territory

ICJ asked to stop Israel's occupation of Palestinian territory

Several countries, including South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Netherlands, and Algeria have urged the International Court of Justice to call on Israel to stop the occupation of Palestinian territories.

ICJ asked to stop Israel's occupation of Palestinian territory

The United Nations's top court is hearing oral submissions from 50 states on the legal implications of Israel's occupation since 1967.

The week-long proceedings began on Monday in The Hauge, as the war in Gaza continues.

The case was triggered by a request from the UN General Assembly in December 2022, when a majority of members voted to seek the court’s opinion on the legal consequences of the continuing Israeli occupation of Palestine.

The case is separate from South Africa's  application, arguing that Israel was violating the UN Convention on Genocide and seeking urgent measures to protect Palestinians in Gaza.

In that case, ICJ ruled that Israel must do everything to "prevent the commission of all acts within the scope" of the Genocide Convention, said the International Court of Justice on Friday.

On the second day of the hearing, the UN's top court heard submissions from  South Africa, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, the Netherlands, Bangladesh, Belgium, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada and  Chile.

Making a submission before the ICJ,  Ambassador of South Africa to the Netherlands, Vusi Madonsela, told the world's top court that Israel is applying an even more extreme version of apartheid in the Palestinian territories than South Africa experienced  before 1994.

"We as South Africans sense, see, hear and feel to our core the inhumane discriminatory policies and practices of the Israeli regime as an even more extreme form of the apartheid that was institutionalised against black people in my country.

"It is clear that Israel's illegal occupation is also being administered in breach of the crime of apartheid... It is indistinguishable from settler colonialism. Israel's apartheid must end," said Madonsela.

Another submission for South Africa was made by Pieter Andreas Stemmet, who is the Acting Chief State Law Adviser at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation.

Stemmet pleaded with the  ICJ to recognise Palestinian people's right to self determination.

"It is often said that the right to life is the found from which all the rights flow, the same could be said about the right to self determination, in the absence of the right to self determination, it is impossible for people to realise a plethora of other rights.

"This advisory proceedings present this honourable court with an opportunity to assist in bringing about the immediate and unconstitutional end to the ongoing, unlawful, violation of Palestinian right to self determination," said Stemmet.

Saudi Arabia also made submissions which made a case for the court to hold Israel accountable for continuing to ignore international law.

Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the Netherlands, Ziad al-Atiyah, challenged the court to issue the advisory opinion.

"The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia submits that the court has jurisdiction to issue the opinion and there are no compolice reasons for it not to do so.

To the contrary, given the recent increase in bloodshed, and distraction by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territory, as well as the dangerous statements made at the highest levels of the Israeli government, we respectfully submit that the court is under a duty to issue its opinion," he said.

The hearings will be held until February 26 and judges will have an opportunity to deliberate on the submissions provided before issuing an advisory opinion.

While Israel will not be participating in the oral submissions, it has already submitted a  written contribution dated July 24, 2023, in which it urged the court to dismiss the request for an opinion.


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