Thu 15 Feb 2024 7:52 am - Jerusalem Time

ICJ will convene next week to examine the legality of the Israeli occupation

The International Court of Justice will convene in The Hague at the beginning of next week, to hear the pleadings of dozens of countries on the legal consequences arising from Israel’s policies and practices in the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem, to give an advisory opinion on that.

The first session of oral arguments will begin on Monday, February 19, which will continue until Monday, February 26, with the participation of 52 countries and three institutions: the League of Arab States, the African Union, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

Next week's sessions come after the participating countries submitted written pleadings last August as a first stage, and the countries' comments on the written pleadings last September.

These sessions come after the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution at the end of 2022, according to which it requested the International Court of Justice, pursuant to Article 65 of its Statute, to urgently issue an advisory opinion (advisory opinion) on two issues: First, what are the emerging legal implications? On the ongoing Israeli occupation violation of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, on its long-term occupation, settlement and annexation of the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, including measures aimed at changing the demographic composition, character and status of the city of Jerusalem, and on its adoption of discriminatory legislation and measures in this regard.

The second issue relates to how the policies and practices of the Israeli occupation referred to in the previous paragraph affect the legal status of the occupation, and what are the legal implications of this status for all countries and the United Nations.

According to the program of the sessions published by the International Court of Justice on its website, each country will present an oral argument before the judges of the Court, lasting thirty minutes. The opening argument will be for the State of Palestine, which will be opened by Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki, followed by members of the Palestinian legal team.

Al-Arabi Al-Jadeed learned from informed sources that the Permanent Representative of Palestine to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, will be present within the Palestinian delegation that will hold a press conference on the first day of the sessions.

A number of Arab countries are also participating, including the State of Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Algeria, the Emirates, Jordan, Libya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, and Iraq.

During their participation, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Hungary are expected to defend the Israeli occupation, according to what Al-Araby Al-Jadeed learned, through written pleadings submitted to the court in the first and second stages.

The State of Guatemala withdrew from the proceedings after it also made allegations in which it defended Israel. Argentina also withdrew after the election of the new pro-Israel Argentine president.

It is noteworthy that the International Court of Justice gave an advisory opinion in 2004 on the Israeli apartheid wall, in which it said that the wall was illegal and called on Israel to dismantle it, but no practical measures were taken on the ground to implement it or prevent the involvement of international companies and institutions in the process of building and securing the wall.

The director of the Palestinian Al-Haq Foundation, Shawan Jabareen, said in an interview with Al-Araby Al-Jadeed about the importance of the advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice, “One of the well-known roles of the International Court of Justice is to give an advisory opinion based on international law, and it is considered acceptable and binding to be implemented by the parties.” Institutions such as the Security Council, and this is what was done in all previous advisory opinions, including those that were against the United States, such as the Nicaragua case regarding the use of nuclear weapons, in which Nicaragua received financial compensation from the United States.”

He added: "It is customary for some countries to deny international law, but this opinion, if approved by the International Court of Justice, will have important effects for the benefit of the Palestinians, and will have weight before the courts and before institutions and countries."

The director of the Al-Haq Foundation, which was part of the discussion about the direction and work on the issue, called for “putting the issue before the Security Council after its approval, despite the expectations of the American veto, which will be heavy in defending the Israeli occupation.”

Jabareen pointed out that "Palestine has become a test for international law and the standards for achieving it in our time," calling for "working on a set of very important decisions to translate the issue into specific steps with the aim of implementing and respecting international law."

(Al-Arabi Al-Jadeed)


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ICJ will convene next week to examine the legality of the Israeli occupation