ICJ Hearings on Israel's Occupation of Palestinian Territories

In a significant development within international legal circles, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has commenced a series of public hearings to delve into the legal consequences stemming from Israel’s prolonged occupation of Palestinian territories. This occasion marks a pivotal moment, distinct from South Africa’s genocide complaint against Israel at the ICJ, focusing instead on the legal scrutiny of Israel’s occupation practices in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem since 1967. The deliberations aim to evaluate the occupation’s impact on the Palestinian quest for self-determination and statehood.

States argument at the International Court of Justice

Various states and their legal experts have laid bare the enduring plight of the Palestinian people under Israeli occupation. This presentation has not been merely an appeal for international sympathy but a robust legal argument grounded in decades of suffering, systematic discrimination, and the denial of fundamental human rights.

The Historical and Ongoing Injustices

On the first day of hearings, Al-Maliki’s opening remarks set the tone for Palestine’s case, emphasising the honour and heavy responsibility of representing millions of Palestinians whose lives are marred by the occupation. States such as Palestine, Egypt and United Arab Emirates set a harrowing picture of 2.3 million Gazans, including countless children, living under siege conditions—bombarded, starved, and displaced. Over 3.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem face relentless colonisation of their land and racist violence. Moreover, 1.7 million Palestinians within Israel are relegated to second-class citizenship, while seven million Palestinian refugees are denied the right to return to their homes.

The Case for Self-Determination

Central to many arguments is the right to self-determination, a principle enshrined in the United Nations Charter yet systematically denied to Palestinians. Al-Maliki’s presentation of maps vividly illustrated the gradual erosion of Palestinian land from 1947 to the present day, underscoring the systematic annexation and colonisation efforts by Israel aimed at making the occupation irreversible. These maps starkly contrasted with the vision of a “New Middle East,” where Palestine is conspicuously absent, encapsulating the existential threat of the occupation.

The Call for International Accountability

Pleas in support of Palestine at the ICJ are a call for the international community to recognise the depth of injustice endured by Palestinians and to affirm their right to self-determination. The arguments presented meticulously detail the legal basis for Israel’s accountability for its actions and the imperative for the immediate cessation of the occupation, settlement expansion, and discriminatory practices against Palestinians.

With over 52 countries and three international organisations participating, the hearings underscore the global concern over the occupation. The presentations have navigated through the occupation’s temporary nature under international law, accusations of apartheid, and the systemic discrimination against Palestinians, shedding light on the occupation’s multifaceted impacts.