World court hears Israeli occupation of Palestinian land

More than 50 states due to address judges with Palestine envoy to start arguments.

THE HAGUE (Reuters): The United Nations’ top court on Monday opens a week of hearings on the legal consequences of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories, with more than 50 states due to address the judges.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki will speak first in the legal proceedings at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague.

In 2022, the U.N. General Assembly asked the court for an advisory, or non-binding, opinion on the occupation.

While Israel has ignored such opinions in the past, it could pile on political pressure over its ongoing war in Gaza, which has killed about 29,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza health officials, since Oct.7.

Among countries scheduled to participate in the hearings are the United States – Israel’s strongest supporter, China, Russia, South Africa and Egypt. Israel will not, although it has sent written observations.

The hearings are part of a Palestinian push to get international legal institutions to examine Israel’s conduct, which has become more urgent since the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas in Israel, which killed 1,200 people, and Israel’s military response.

They also come amid mounting concerns about an Israeli ground offensive against the Gaza city of Rafah, a last refuge for more than a million Palestinians after they fled to the south of the enclave to avoid Israeli assaults.

Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem – areas of historic Palestine which the Palestinians want for a state – in the 1967 war. It withdrew from Gaza in 2005, but, along with neighbouring Egypt, still controls its borders.

It is the second time the U.N. General Assembly has asked the ICJ, also known as the World Court, for an advisory opinion related to the occupied Palestinian territory.

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