World Court to consider Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands hearing

The Palestinian Foreign Minister, Riyad al-Maliki, delivered a resounding call for an immediate cessation of Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories at the onset of hearings convened at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague.

These hearings, slated to continue until February 26, involve more than 50 states presenting arguments in response to a 2022 request from the U.N. General Assembly for an advisory opinion on the contentious issue of occupation.

Israel has long disputed the formal characterization of the territories as "occupied," contending that they were acquired from Jordan and Egypt during the 1967 conflict rather than from a sovereign Palestine. Al-Maliki, however, vehemently accused Israel of perpetuating decades of discrimination and apartheid against Palestinians, asserting that they have been left with no choice but "displacement, subjugation, or death." He underscored that the only viable solution, consistent with international law, is the immediate and unconditional cessation of this illegal occupation.

The proceedings at the ICJ are anticipated to extend over several months as the judges deliberate before issuing their opinion. While Israel has previously disregarded such legal opinions, the current deliberations could significantly amplify political pressure, especially regarding Israel's recent conflict in Gaza. Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem during the 1967 conflict, territories that Palestinians aspire to incorporate into their future states.

This hearing is part of a broader effort by Palestinians to seek legal scrutiny of Israel's conduct, particularly in light of recent escalations in violence in Gaza. Al-Maliki also reiterated accusations of genocide in Gaza, which Israel vehemently denies, citing its actions as necessary self-defense measures against militant threats.

The U.N. General Assembly's decision to seek an advisory opinion from the ICJ is not unprecedented. In July 2004, the court ruled that Israel's separation wall in the West Bank violated international law, though it remains intact to this day. The current proceedings aim to address Israel's occupation, settlement activities, and annexation policies, underscoring the significant legal and moral implications of the outcome.

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