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ICJ to hold hearings on decades-long Israeli occupation of Palestine

The International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, on August 27, 2018. (Photo by AP)

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is set to hold as of February 19 hearings on the legal consequences of Israel’s decades-long occupation of Palestinian territories, with an unprecedented number of countries and international organizations expected to give evidence at the world’s highest court.

The Hague-based tribunal is scheduled to start hearings on the 1967 Israeli occupation of Palestine from Monday in the presence of representatives from 52 countries, including Russia, China and the United States, and three international organizations during a week-long session.

The proceedings stem from a December 2022 request by the United Nations General Assembly for an advisory opinion by the court on the legal consequences of Israel’s policies and practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

The ICJ was asked by the UN General Assembly to address the “legal consequences arising from the ongoing violation by Israel of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, from its prolonged occupation, settlement and annexation” of Palestinian territories, including “its adoption of related discriminatory legislation and measures,” and to give its opinion on the legal consequences of the occupation and Israel’s practices for all states and the UN.

Although ICJ’s advisory opinions are non-binding, they can carry great moral and legal authority and can ultimately become part of customary international law, which is legally binding on states.

The hearings, which will last six days, are distinct from a high-profile case brought by South Africa to the same court that focused on Israel’s ongoing genocidal war against Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip.

The ICJ, composed of 15 judges elected by the UN General Assembly and Security Council for nine-year terms, has been conducting an investigation into Israeli crimes and atrocities in Gaza since March 2021 and in the occupied West Bank since 2014.

The UN’s top court is expected to issue its legal opinion on the forthcoming hearings before the end of 2024.

Since the Israeli occupation of Palestine in June 1967, the illegal entity has perpetrated a raft of crimes, including killing, displacement, arrest and torture of Palestinians and demolition of their homes.

In its latest act of aggression, more than 28,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, have been killed and over 68,000 others injured since the Israeli regime launched its US-backed onslaught on Gaza on October 7, 2023.

Providing Israel with an unbridled supply of arms and ammunition since the initiation of the Gaza war, the United States has also vetoed UN Security Council resolutions that called on the regime to cease its aggression.

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