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ICJ receives UN request for opinion on Israeli regime’s occupation of West Bank

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The United Nations flag flutters in the wind next to the International Court of Justice in the Hague, the Netherlands. (Photo by AP)

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) confirms it has officially received a request from the United Nations General Assembly to give an advisory opinion on the legal consequences of Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories.

The Hague-based ICJ, also known as the World Court, is expected to draw up a list of states and organizations that will be able to file written statements, but the press release gave no further information about a timeline for that process. 

The court has scheduled hearings in the previous advisory opinions, but it is likely to take at least several months before they can be scheduled.

Back on December 31 last year, the UN General Assembly asked the ICJ to give an advisory opinion on the legal consequences of Israel's “occupation, settlement and annexation.”

The move, condemned by Israel and welcomed by Palestinians, was backed by 87 countries of the UN General Assembly members against 26, with 53 abstentions.

The resolution calls on the ICJ to determine the “legal consequences arising from the ongoing violation by Israel of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination” as well as of its measures “aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status” of the holy city of al-Quds.

It also calls on the UN Secretary General to present a report on the implementation of the resolution in the upcoming session of the UN General Assembly in September 2023.

Palestinian Ambassador to the UN, Riyad Mansour, hailed the countries that were “undeterred by threats and pressure” and voted in favor of the resolution.

The Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA) also hailed the UNGA resolution.

“Time has come for Israel to be an entity subject to law, and to be held accountable for its ongoing crimes against our people,” presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said.

Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has called the request for an ICJ opinion a “despicable decision.”

The ICJ last weighed in on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in 2004. It ruled at the time that the so-called separation wall, which snakes across the occupied West Bank and isolates large swathes of Palestinian territories, was illegal.

In the same ruling, the ICJ judges said that Israeli settlements in Occupied Palestinian Territory “have been established in breach of international law.”

Israel rejected that ruling, accusing the Court of being politically motivated.

Israel settlers set up new illegal outpost in occupied West Bank

Meanwhile, Israeli settlers on Friday set up a new illegal settlement outpost in the northern sector of the occupied West Bank.

“A group of settlers established a settlement outpost on the lands of Jureesh town, south of Nablus,” Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official who monitors settlement activities in the northern West Bank, stated.

He said that the settlers installed a number of residential caravans in the area.

The Palestinian foreign ministry, in return, condemned the establishment of the outpost.

“This crime (establishing the outpost) is Israel's response to the current American team's visit to the region, and a blatant challenge to international and American demands to stop all illegal unilateral measures,” the ministry said.

It stressed that “the failure of the American side to respond immediately to this provocative step reflects a lack of seriousness in putting words and positions into actions.”

On Wednesday, a US delegation headed by National Security Adviser, Jack Sullivan, visited the region and met with Palestinian and Israeli officials.

Israeli soldiers, settlers attack Palestinians near Nablus; wounding six

Separately, two Palestinians were wounded by rubber-coated steel bullets, and four others beaten on Friday during clashes between Palestinian villagers and invading Israeli forces and settlers in the village of Jureish, east of Nablus.

The head of the village council, Raed Abu Jamous, told the official Palestinian news agency WAFA that Israeli settlers started to establish the illegal outpost early in the morning, under the protection of Israeli army troops.

Local Palestinian residents confronted them in return, which led to the outbreak of confrontations.

Abu Jamous added that Israeli forces fired rubber-coated metal bullets to disperse Palestinian protesters, wounding two young men. The extremist settlers also beat four young men with sticks, and smashed the windows of 15 vehicles with stones.

Netanyahu’s hardline cabinet has made the announcement that it will put settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank at the top of its list of priorities.

About 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds.

Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent Palestinian state, with East al-Quds as its capital.

The last round of Israeli-Palestinian talks collapsed in 2014. Among the major sticking points in those negotiations was Israel’s continued settlement expansion on Palestinian territories.

All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law as they are built on occupied land.

The UN Security Council has condemned Israel’s settlement activities in the occupied territories in several resolutions.

Palestinian man shot dead over alleged stabbing attempt in occupied West Bank

Additionally, Israeli military forces have shot dead a Palestinian man after he allegedly tried to stab an Israeli settler in the northern part of the West Bank, amid heightened tensions in the occupied Palestinian territories ahead of the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Israeli media outlets alleged that the man entered the illegal Sde Ephraim Farm outpost by car and tried to stab an Israeli man before he was shot dead by an armed settler.

The official Palestinian News Agency Wafa identified the victim as 42-year-old Tareq Odeh Maali, noting that he was shot and killed near the town of Kafr Ni'ma, west of Ramallah.

Israeli forces launch raids on various cities of the occupied West Bank almost on a daily basis under the pretext of detaining what it calls “wanted” Palestinians. The raids usually lead to violent confrontations with residents.

Over the past months, Israel has ramped up attacks on Palestinian towns and cities throughout the occupied territories. As a result of these attacks, dozens of Palestinians have lost their lives and many others have been arrested.

The United Nations marked 2022 as the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank in 16 years.

Israeli forces killed at least 171 Palestinians in the West Bank and occupied East al-Quds last year, including more than 30 children. At least 9,000 others were injured as well.

Reacting to fresh Israeli crimes, Palestinian Hamas resistance movement said in a statement on Friday that it holds Israel accountable for its continued crimes and violations against Palestinians, and reaffirms that the occupying regime’s acts of aggression will not go unnoticed.

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