Creating new perspectives since 2009

‘No country is defending Israel at the ICJ because its actions are indefensible’

February 20, 2024 at 9:24 am

A general view of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) building as the hearings on the advisory proceedings of the legal consequences of Israel’s practices in the Palestinian territories continue with interventions from the delegations in The Hague, Netherlands on February 20, 2024 [Nikos Oikonomou – Anadolu Agency]

Not one state has sought to defend Israel’s actions and occupation of Palestinian territory, highlighting the illegality of Tel Aviv’s policies, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the Netherlands Ziad Al Atiyah told the International Court of Justice today.

Speaking on the second day of the ICJ hearings of submissions regarding the legal consequences of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem since 1967,

Al Atiyah said Israel treats Palestinians as “dispensable objects, rather than human beings”, which have led to Israel being accused of being in committing genocide against the Palestinian population before the World Court. ⁠

“Of all the written statements presented before this court, not one state has sought to defend the legality of Israel’s policies and practices in the occupied Palestinian territory. This is a telling acknowledgement of the international community’s unanimous recognition of the illegality which pervades the occupation,” Al Atiyah said.

Israel can’t say anything about the substantive evidence against it, he continued, the only logical conclusion is that Israel’s practices and policies in the occupied territories are “legally indefensible”.

At the senior levels of the Israeli government calls are made to expel and ethnically cleanse Palestinians from their land and homes, he added. Israel’s aggression has been accompanied by statements that it will not cede any Palestinian territory or agree to a Palestinian state.

WATCH: Israel targets journalists in Gaza while they were covering

He called on Israel to cease its settlement activities, relinquish control of Jerusalem and comply with its international obligations.

Recalling the saying of the father of the Bengali nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Ambassador of Bangladesh to the Netherlands, Riaz Hamidullah, said Dhaka was taking part in these proceedings because the world is divided into two parts, oppressors and the oppressed, and it is on the side of the oppressed.

Ending the occupation, he explained, will bring an end to the violence against Palestinians, but there is no end to the occupation, it is “interminable” as Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier this year, Mujibur Rahman explained.

“Israel must provide reparation for damages caused and must ensure non-repetition,” while states must not provide support for Israel’s acts and must not recognise its occupation.

South Africa’s Ambassador to the Netherlands, Vusimuzi Madonsela, told the court that Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory is part of the ongoing Nakba which began in 1948.

South Africans, he explained, “sense, feel to our core” that what Israel operates in the West Bank “as an even more extreme form of apartheid than that which was executed against black people in my country.”

Outlining Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights, including mass detentions, discrimination and incursions into Palestinian land, Madonsela said the international community’s unwillingness to keep Israel in check “embolden Israel to … commit the crime of apartheid.”

Leader of the Belizean delegation to the ICJ, Assad Shoman, reiterated Madonsela’s comments of Israel’s exceptionalism where international law is concerned.

Israel considers itself an exception. No state reserves to itself the right to systematically violate the rights of a people to self determination, except Israel

Shoman told the judges.

“No state seeks to justify the indefinite occupation of another’s territory, except Israel. No state commits annexation and apartheid with impunity, except it seems, Israel.”

“But Israel must not be allowed such blatant impunity. It must not be allowed to continue to inflict scares for generations to come on those that survive this Holocaust.”

Continuing Israel’s address, Philippa Webb said: “Israel has long standing discriminatory laws, policies and practices that affect only Palestinians and are designed to benefit, exclusively, and maintain the dominance of Israeli Jews on both sides of the Green Line.”

She highlighted that the racism entrenched in such a policy in taught at a young age, “indoctrination starts in the classroom” and warnings have been issued of the “racist hate speech” contained in school textbooks and the “extensive militarisation of the education system”, this is later entrenched through compulsory military service.

The court also heard statements from Algeria, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, and was due to hear from Canada, however Ottawa pulled out of the case. It is unclear why.Tomorrow the ICj will hear from Colombia, Comoros, Cuba, Egypt, the UAE, the US, Russia, France, Gambia, Guyana and Hungary.

READ: Gaza: Grave violations against children must stop, says Save the Children CEO