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News > World

States Demand an Immediate End to Israel’s Activities

  • States speak out at the ICJ on Israel's long occupation of Palestinian land. Feb. 23, 2024.

    States speak out at the ICJ on Israel's long occupation of Palestinian land. Feb. 23, 2024. | Photo: X/@The_NewArab

Published 23 February 2024

The speakers' key points revolved around the Palestinian people's right to self-determination and the permanent nature of the Israeli occupation. 

This Friday marks the fifth day of oral arguments before the International Court of Justice regarding Israel's policies and practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including East Jerusalem. 

The Long-Term Solution for Gaza is Political: UN Coordinator

The states continued their oral presentations in the hearing before the International Court of Justice, den Haag, Netherlands.

Namibia: Israel “should not be exempted from sanctions”

On behalf of Namibia spoke Yvonne Dausab, Minister of Justice and Phoebe Okowa, Professor of Public International Law, University of London, Legal Counsel.

Dausab began reminding that Namibia had suffered “the first genocide in the 20th century” and knows “too well the suffering of occupation, colonialism, systematic discrimination, apartheid”. 

“The parallels between Namibia and Palestine are striking and painful”, she said, adding that “reality of the people of Palestine evokes painful memories for many Namibians of my generation.”

She underlined previous advisory opinions of the ICJ had played a “vital role” in paving the way to independence for Namibia. 

The Namibian representative called the situation in Palestine “hell on earth” and stated that “civilized nations cannot and must not accept” it. 

She also addressed the Palestinian people themselves: “A people united will always emerge victorious,” Dausab said.

The second speaker on behalf of Namibia, Professor Okawa, addressed the court specifically on the question of apartheid, a crime that Namibia had also suffered. Several delegations mentioned during the hearings the case South Africa versus Namibia with rulings of international courts.

The court “should make it clear that the prohibition of apartheid is not limited to Southern Africa in the last century,” Okawa said. She demanded to establish apartheid as a preemptory norm and to clarify its definition.

Okawa stated, “The Israeli government's openly articulated aim is to ensure Jewish-Israeli control of all facets of Palestinian life as evidenced by legislation affirming Israel as a nation-state of the Jewish people with unique self-determination rights reserved for Jewish individuals only.”

It was fragmenting the Palestinian people in the occupied territories into administrative units, thus eliminating their collective identity, Okawa said. 

Calling the court to set a “strict time limit” to end occupation, “No state should be exempted from the comprehensive regime of sanctions”, Okawa concluded. 

Norway: Questioning Israel’s UN membership

Kristian Jervell, Director General, Legal Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Rolf Einar Fife, ambassadeur en mission spéciale, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spoke on behalf of Norway.

Jervell expressed “utmost concern” given the “indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force in the Gaza Strip and the illegal settlements in the West Bank”. “House evictions, demolitions forced displacement and settler violence” do, according to the Norwegian representative, “threaten the foundations of international law.”

Attacks of Hamas do “not justify inciting or taking measures directed against civilian population”, Jervell stated. 

The Director General continued: “Actions by Israel constituting de facto annexation include expropriating land and natural resources, establishing settlements and outposts, maintaining a restrictive and discriminatory planning and building regime for Palestinians, and extending Israeli law extraterritorially to Israeli settlers in the West Bank.”

Quoting Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s words of 2019, who had claimed that his “government would be applying Israeli sovereignty over all the communities to which Israeli settlers had been transferred,” Jervell commented: These words “may constitute direct and public incitements to commit serious violations of international law.”

Speaking as second representative, Rolf Einar Fife reminded of the historic process of Israel’s admission to UN membership. He recalled the words of the Israeli politician Abba Eban, who during the application had asked whether “the time had come for the UN, if it wished Israel to bear the heavy burden of charter obligations to confer upon Israel.”

“Such declarations were instrumental in securing a majority of votes in the relevant organs of the United Nations” for Israel’s membership in the UN, Fife state and concluded they “may also give rise to legal circumstances.”

Oman: Court should bring Israel to end this unlawful situation

The Sultanate of Oman was represented by Sheikh Abdullah Al Harthi, Ambassador to the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

“Today in Gaza, the world is witnessing since four months one of the worst atrocities and acts of genocide inmodern times”, Al Harthi said, adding that 25 thousand people were killed and 69 thousand wounded, with 2.2 million living under unbearable conditions.

The Oman ambassador reminded that the Security Council had “recognized the inalienable, permanent and qualified tight to self-determination of the Palestinian people.”

This demanded “the immediate cessation of all illegal acts including settlements and associated legal and administrative frameworks”, Al Harthi stated. 

“The court should determine that Israel should bring an immediate and unconditional end to this unlawful situation,” the ambassador concluded. 

Pakistan: France had to withdraw settlers from Algeria

Ahmed Irfan Aslam, Federal Minister for Law and Justice, represented Pakistan.

“These proceedings take place as a whole people struggle to survive through relentless bombardment. The very people who have endured daily persecution for over half a century,” began Aslam his words. 

The Pakistan representative said the Israel’s “occupation is no longer occupation. It is annexation. In East Jerusalem, the annexation is de jure, in the rest de facto.”

He also quoted Ben-Gurion, the founder and first Prime Minister of Israel with the words “the Israeli Empire must comprise all the territories between the Nile and the Euphrates”. 

But still, reminded the Pakistani speaker, had France to withdrew 1 million settlers from Algeria when that country became independent, “not only more numerous, but they were also far older and better established than Israel's West Bank colonies.”

Aslam reiterated Pakistan’s belief that “two-state-solution must be the basis for peace”. He demanded the immediate cessation of Israel’s activities, its immediate and unconditional withdrawal”. 

Introducing another principle of international law that a state should not benefit from wrongdoing, Aslam reminded of the court’s rulings in regard to Namibia. Acknowledging that the Security Council was unanimous at that case, he still insisted that the rulings provided a legal base to treat the Palestinian situation as well, despite ongoing vetoes in the Council.

Indonesia: "Holding a gun at your head is not a negotiation"

Indonesia was represented by Retno L. P. Marsudi, Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Marsudi called the Palestinian issue “a matter of supreme and grave importance”, and declared to stand in the court “to defend justice against the blatant violation of international law by Israel”. 

“Israel’s unlawful occupation and its atrocities must stop”, said the Minister, adding “Israel has zero intention to respect, let alone abide by its international legal obligation”. 

“Apparently the death of almost 30,000 lives is not enough for Israel as it is close to strike on Rafah, once the only gateway for life-saving humanitarian assistance to Gaza”, said Marsudi calling the ICJ to maintain the rules-based international order.

Some states objected to the court providing an opinion, arguing that it might had affect negatively a negotiation process. “There is no viable peace process, holding a gun to your head is not negotiation”, answered the Indonesian minister. 

“Given the illegal nature of the occupation, Israel's withdrawal must neither be done with precondition nor subject to any negotiation. They must withdraw now. I repeat, they must withdraw now”, said the Indonesian Foreign Minister. 

Qatar: International legal order "under threat"

On behalf of Qatar spoke Mutlaq Bin Majed Al-Qahtani, Ambassador to the Kingdom of the Netherlands. 

Al Qahtani said “recent events have underscored that international legal order is under threat”, with a growing perception in some quarters of the world that international law applies to some but not to others."

“The Palestinian people have been treated as an exception to the international rule of law”, the Qatari ambassador added, calling “Israel’s genocidal war the most pressing threat to international peace and security.”

Israel has “ethnically cleansed and colonized Palestinian lands” and established an “apartheid regime with the intent to maintain the domination of Jewish Israelis over Palestinians.”

The Qatari ambassador described settler colonial projects, the policy of displacement of Palestinians, where since October 7 only 13 communities were torn apart. Al Qahtani also explained “strategic fragmentation” of the Palestinian population and the “discriminatory ad unlawful violence” it faces in addition to the “discriminatory military legal system” established in the territories. 

He then continued to describe the eradication ad suppression of all manifestation of Palestinian culture and religion and the economic repression as well as the “systemic persecution and suppression” the Palestinians endure. 

Describing why the occupation is illegal, the Qatari representative concluded by expressing hope that the “court will seize historic opportunity to finally bring an end to a century of injustice against the Palestinian people.”

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