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UN court concludes hearings on Israel's occupation of Palestinian land

Xinhua | Updated: 2024-02-27 13:57

Judge Nawaf Salam, president of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) arrives at a public hearing held by ICJ to allow parties to give their views on the legal consequences of Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories before eventually issuing a non-binding legal opinion in The Hague, Netherlands, Feb 21, 2024. [Photo/Agencies]

THE HAGUE - The International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Monday concluded the public hearings on the legal consequences of Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories and began its deliberation.

An advisory opinion will be delivered at a public sitting, whose date will be announced in due course, ICJ President Nawaf Salam said in his concluding remarks.

A ruling is expected next year or maybe late this year.

Palestine, 49 UN member states, and three international organizations presented oral statements at the hearings requested by the UN General Assembly, the ICJ said Monday in a press release.

Without participating in the hearings from last Monday, the Israeli Prime Minister's Office issued a statement rejecting the legitimacy of the hearings, accusing them of attempting to further undermine Israel's right to survival and self-defense.

The hearings started with Palestine's statement. Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki said that many Palestinians have been killed or forced to become refugees, and deprived of the right to return to their land and homes, adding that under international law, Israel should immediately and unconditionally end its "illegal" occupation.

Palestine's UN envoy Riyad Mansour said that the ICJ should declare in its ruling that Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories is illegal, so as to pave the way for an immediate end to the occupation and achieve a "just and lasting peace".

"The injustice being wrought against the people of Gaza, as we convene here in the Great Hall of Justice, makes it imperative to end Israel's impunity and hold it accountable to the rule of law," Mohamed Helal, a professor of law, said Monday on behalf of the African Union.

Abdel Hakim El Rifai, representative of the Permanent Mission of the League of Arab States in Brussels, said that "only the rule of law, not the prevailing 'law of the jungle' will pave the way to peace in the whole region," and "ending the occupation is the gateway to peaceful coexistence."

Hissein Brahim Taha, secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said that his organization of 57 member states is "deeply concerned about the ongoing aggression that Israel, the occupying power, is waging against the Palestinian people in Gaza and the vital risk posed to them by Israel's operations."

This is the second time in 20 years that the ICJ was asked by the UN General Assembly to provide an advisory opinion on the issue of the occupied Palestinian territories.

In 2004, the ICJ ruled that Israel's separation wall in the occupied Palestinian territory on the West Bank violated international law and should be demolished, but the wall still stands.

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