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Palestinians accuse Israel of "apartheid" before ICJ

The head of Palestinian diplomacy, Riad Al-Maliki, declared Monday before the highest court of the UN that its people were suffering "colonialism and apartheid" and asked to the judges to call à the end of the Israeli occupation.

“The Palestinians are suffering from both colonialism and apartheid” and “some are outraged by these words but they should be outraged by the reality that is ours”, declared Mr. Al- Maliki before the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The court, which sits in The Hague, is holding hearings this week on the legal consequences of Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories since 1967, with an unprecedented number of 52 countries called to testify.

Israel is not participating in the hearings but called on the Court to reject the request for an opinion in a written submission dated July 24, 2023.

Riad Al-Maliki called on the Court to declare the occupation illegal and order its end “immediately, completely and unconditionally.”

“Delayed justice equals “a denial of justice and the Palestinian people have been deprived of justice for far too long,” he told the magistrates. “It is time to put an end to the double standards that the Palestinian people have suffered for too long.”

Riyad Mansour, Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations, struggled to hold back tears as he called for a “future in which Palestinian children are treated as children and not as a demographic threat.”

– “Impunity and inaction” –

On December 31, 2022, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution asking the ICJ for non-binding “advisory opinion” on the “legal consequences arising from Israel's policies and practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem”.

Palestinians accuse Israel of "apartheid" before ICJ

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad al-Maliki at the start of a hearing at the International Court of Justice, in The Hague on February 19, 2024 © ANP – Robin van Lonkhuijsen

These hearings come amid growing international legal pressure on Israel over the war in Gaza sparked by the Hamas attack on October 7.

They are separate from a case brought to the ICJ by South Africa, which accuses Israel of committing genocidal acts in Gaza. In January, the Court called on Israel to prevent any possible act of genocide, but did not mention a ceasefire.

According to Riad Al-Maliki, “the ongoing genocide in Gaza is the result of decades of impunity and inaction.”

“End impunity 'Israel is a moral, political and legal imperative,' he said.

– “Prolonged occupation” –

The General Assembly asked the ICJ to consider the “legal consequences” of what the resolution calls “Israel's continued violation of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.”

This concerns the “prolonged occupation” of Palestinian territory since 1967.

It must also examine measures “aimed at modifying the demographic composition, character and status of the holy city of Jerusalem.”

Palestinians accuse Israel of "apartheid" before ICJ

An Israeli soldier stands guard on January 26, 2024 in East Jerusalem. © AFP – MARCO LONGARI

In June 1967, Israel waged the Six Day War, seizing the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan, the Golan Heights from Syria, the Strip of Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula to the detriment of Egypt.

Israel then began to occupy the 70,000 square kilometers of seized Arab territories, an occupation subsequently declared illegal by the United Nations.

The ICJ is also invited to examine the consequences of what the UN resolution describes as “Israel's adoption of discriminatory laws and measures.”

She must give her opinion on how Israel's actions Israel “affects the legal status of the occupation” and its consequences for the United Nations and other countries.

– “Distortion of history” –

Israel said the “prejudicial” and “tendentious” questions represent “a clear distortion of the history and current reality of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

The Court will rule “urgently” on this case, probably by the end of the year.

Dozens of pro-Palestinian activists gathered in front of the ICJ on Monday with flags and banners.

“I really hope that justice prevails” and that “all combined efforts to put pressure on Israel and demand a more humane policy will finally lead to measures to liberate the Palestinian people,” one of the organizers, Nadia Slimi, 27, told AFP.

The ICJ rules on disputes between States and its judgments are binding, although it has few means to enforce them.

< p>However, in the present case, the opinion it gives will not be binding. But most advisory opinions are actually acted upon.

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116