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Arab States, Turkiye, ask World Court to declare Israel Occupation illegal

February 26, 2024 at 3:26 pm

Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Ahmet Yildiz speaks to press following the hearings to address the legal consequences of Israeli actions in the Palestinian territory at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, Netherlands on February 26, 2024. [Nikos Oikonomou – Anadolu Agency]

Arab states urged international judges, on Monday, to rule the Israeli Occupation of Palestinian Territories illegal and Turkiye described the Occupation as “the real obstacle to peace” on the final day of hearings in a case examining its legal status, Reuters reports.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has been hearing arguments from more than 50 states following a request by the UN General Assembly in 2022 to issue a non-binding opinion on the legal consequences of the Israeli Occupation.

On the sixth and last day of hearings, Turkiye’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Ahmet Yildiz, told judges the Occupation was the root cause of conflict in the region.

Yildiz also addressed the 7 October attacks by Hamas in Israel, which killed 1,200 people, and Israel’s military response that has since killed more than 29,000 Palestinians.

“The unfolding situation after 7 October proves once again that, without addressing the root cause of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there can be no peace in the region,” he said, describing the Occupation of Palestinian Territories as “the real obstacle to peace” and urging the judges to declare it illegal.

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Israel, which is not taking part in the hearings, has said the Court’s involvement could be harmful to achieving a negotiated settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, calling the questions posed to the Court prejudiced.

Palestinian factions have also come under international pressure to end their own divisions over their response to Israel’s Occupation, the war in Gaza and what political system might follow it.

As Turkey’s Yildiz was speaking in Court, news broke that Palestinian Prime Minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh, had resigned and said it was a move to pave the way for a political consensus on a political structure to govern Gaza after the conflict.

Earlier, on Monday, the Arab League’s Secretary-General, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, described the Occupation as “an affront to international justice” in a statement read out by a representative.

The League called upon the ICJ, also known as the World Court, to “confirm the illegality of this Occupation and unambiguously rule on the legal consequences for all parties, especially those who turn a blind eye, facilitate, assist or participate in any way in perpetuating this illegal situation”.

Last week, Palestinian representatives asked the judges to declare Israel’s Occupation of their Territory illegal and said the Court’s opinion could help reach a two-state solution to decades of Israeli-Palestinian conflict that has now devastated Gaza.

The United States urged the Court, last week, to limit any advisory opinion on the Occupation and not order the unconditional withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Palestinian Territories.

On Friday, the Biden administration said Israel’s expansion of settlements in the Occupied West Bank was inconsistent with international law, signalling a return to long-standing US policy that had been reversed by the previous administration of Donald Trump.

The ICJ judges are expected to take roughly six months to issue their non-binding opinion on the Occupation.

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