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Apparent crater of an American-made 2,000-pound bomb detonation in Gaza. YouTube/Screenshot

(LifeSiteNews) — Another demonstration of the profound global isolation of Israel and the United States — due to their “plausible” acts of genocide in Gaza — concluded last week at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) where a vast majority of nations and international organizations spoke against the legality of Israel’s 57-year military occupation of Palestine.

Separate from January’s more publicized genocide case brought by South Africa, this hearing was initiated by a December 2022 U.N. General Assembly resolution requesting the ICJ’s opinion regarding the legal consequences of Israel’s continued “occupation, settlement and annexation” of Palestinian territory.

With the ongoing massive destruction and bloodshed of innocent women, children and men in Gaza continuing, Catholic, Orthodox and other Christian authorities in the Middle East, as well as overwhelming majorities of national governments across the world, have long judged this occupation to be the “root” evil of the ongoing conflict between the Israeli occupiers, and the occupied Palestinians.

READ: How do Christians in the Holy Land understand the Israeli occupation of Palestine?

During the six-day hearing that ended last week, the ICJ received testimonies from 45 nations and three organizations against the Israeli government with only four defending the ongoing occupation (United States, U.K., Hungary and Fiji).

Richard Visek, acting legal adviser for the U.S. State Department, argued in his remarks that “the court should not find that Israel is legally obligated to immediately and unconditionally withdraw from occupied territory.”

“Any movement towards Israel’s withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza requires consideration of Israel’s very real security needs,” he said. “It is important that the court keeps in mind the balance the [U.N.] Security Council and the General Assembly have determined is necessary to provide the best chance for durable peace.”

Marwin Bishara, political analyst for Al Jazeera, summarized the U.S. argument as proposing “the court should be at the service of the American and Israeli negotiation strategy – not that the American and Israeli negotiation strategy should abide by the court’s ruling.”

Help Christians in Gaza to survive ongoing war

Wilde: Occupation involves ‘serious violations of international law,’ including prohibitions against ‘aggression, genocide… racial discrimination, apartheid, and torture’

What has been widely considered a particularly “masterful” presentation during the hearing, however, came from British law professor Ralph Wilde on behalf of the League of Arab States in which he, in part, responded directly to the United States, the U.K. and others (unofficial transcript).

In his opening remarks he argued the international “right to self-determination” has been denied to the Palestinian people “through the more than century-long violent, colonial, racist effort to establish a nation-state exclusively for the Jewish people.” He continued:

When this began after the First World War, the Jewish population of that land was 11 percent. Forcibly implementing Zionism in this demographic context has necessarily involved the extermination or forced displacement of some of the non-Jewish Palestinian population, the exercise of domination over and subjugation, dispossession, and immiseration of remaining non-Jewish Palestinians, the emigration to that land of Jewish people regardless of any direct personal link, and the denial of Palestinian refugees the right to return, all operating through a racist distinction privileging Jewish people over non-Jewish Palestinian people.

Such actions constitute “serious violations… of international law,” including the “prohibitions on aggression, genocide, crimes against humanity, racial discrimination, apartheid, and torture” the University College of London professor said.

The US presents the law as they ‘would like it to be, not the law as it is’

Turning his attention to arguments made by the U.S., U.K., and Zambia, Wilde described their position as suggesting this particular occupation to be a unique situation (“sui generis”) that entails its own legal framework, “an Israeli-Palestinian lex specialis” that “somehow supersedes the rules of international law determining whether the occupation is existentially lawful. Instead, we have a new rule justifying the occupation until there is a peace agreement meeting Israeli security needs.”

“This is the law as these states would like it to be, not the law as it is. It has no basis in Resolution 242, Oslo, or any other resolutions or agreements,” he asserted.

Actually, you (judges) are being invited to do away with the very operation of some of the fundamental peremptory rules of international law itself. As a result, the matters these rules conceive as rights vested in the Palestinian people would be realized only if agreement is reached and only on the basis of such agreement.

At best, if there is an agreement, this means one that need not be compatible with Palestinian peremptory legal rights determined only by the acute power imbalance in Israel’s favor. At worst, if there is no agreement, this means that the indefinite continuation of Israeli rule over the Palestinian people in the OPT [Occupied Palestinian Territories] on the basis of racist supremacy and a claim to sovereignty would be lawful.

This is an affront to the international rule of law, to the U.N. Charter imperative to settle disputes in conformity with international law, and to your judicial function as guardians of the international legal system.

1917 Balfour Declaration to establish ‘a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine’ had ‘no legal power to bypass’ the Covenant of the League of Nations

Wilde also argued that Palestine’s legal right to self-determination recognized under international law originated in Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations after World War I with Britain, as the colonial ruler, having a “sacred trust obligation” to provisionally recognize Palestine as an independent state.

Yet, Britain and others “attempted to bypass” this obligation by issuing the 1917 Balfour Declaration that instead committed to “establishing a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine.” However, these politicians “had no legal power to bypass the Covenant in this way” acting beyond their authority, and thus, the declaration’s “relevant provisions were legally void.”

“There was and is no legal basis in that mandate instrument for either a specifically Jewish state in Palestine or the U.K.’s failure to discharge the sacred trust obligation to implement Palestinian self-determination,” Wilde said.

The occupation is ‘existentially illegal’ since it involves an unlawful use of force to enable annexation of territory, and as such remains ‘an aggression’

He further stated that in negotiations between these parties over the years, “Israel cannot lawfully demand concessions on Palestinian rights as the price for ending its impediment to Palestinian freedom,” the military occupation. “The Palestinian people are legally entitled to reject a further loss of land over which they have an exclusive legal peremptory right.”

“In sum, the occupation of the Palestinian Gaza Strip and West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is existentially illegal” since it involves an unlawful use of force to enable annexation of territory, and as such remains “an aggression,” Wilde continued.

Secondly, it is also illegal since it violates the right of self-determination through confiscations of land but “also more generally because it is quite simply an exercise of authority over the Palestinian people that by its very nature violates their right to freedom.”

As a consequence, “the occupation must end, Israel must renounce its claim to sovereignty over the Palestinian territory, [and] all settlers must be removed immediately,” he assessed. “This is required to end the illegality, to discharge the positive obligation to enable immediate Palestinian self-administration and because Israel lacks any legal entitlement to exercise authority.”

Israel’s occupation ‘an even more extreme form of the apartheid’ than experienced by black people in South Africa

Notable remarks by other national representatives include Ireland’s Attorney General Rossa Fanning, who emphasized that “states are obliged not to render aid or assistance in maintaining the situation created by Israel’s breach of its obligation to respect the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.”

Such an obligation should “preclude any implied recognition of the annexation” along with “a ban on imports of goods originating in the annexed territory and a prohibition against investing in it.”

Ohio State University law professor Mohamed Helal, representing the African Union, provided a historical overview on the Palestinian territories, including the occupation, to answer the question, “Does Israel have title over the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem?”

“The answer is unequivocally no,” Helal said. “Since 1967, Israel has exercised belligerent occupation over the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. The African Union also submits that Israel’s 57-year occupation of the Palestinian territories is unlawful and must be brought to an end.”

Ahmet Yildiz, Turkey’s deputy minister of foreign affairs, argued that “the real obstacle to peace is obvious — the deepening occupation by Israel of the Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem, and failure to implement the two-state vision, Israel and Palestine living side by side.”

Vusimuzi Madonsela, South Africa’s ambassador to the Netherlands, where the ICJ is based, said, “We as South Africans sense, see, hear and feel to our core the inhumane discriminatory policies and practices of the Israeli regime as an even more extreme form of the apartheid that was institutionalized against Black people in my country.”

“It is clear that Israel’s illegal occupation is also being administered in breach of the crime of apartheid,” he continued. “It is indistinguishable from settler colonialism. Israel’s apartheid must end.”

‘The Palestinian people only demand respect for their rights. They ask for nothing more. They can accept nothing less, and nothing else.’

Abdel Hakim Al Rifai, the Arab League’s representative in Brussels, delivered remarks on behalf of the organization’s Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit calling the “prolonged occupation” an “affront to international justice” and “the failure to bring it to an end has led to the current horrors perpetrated against the Palestinian people amounting to genocide.”

READ: UN’s top court rules genocide charge against Israel is ‘plausible’

“The insistence on placing Israel above the law though the politicization of accountability and adopting double standards in the application of justice is a direct threat to international peace and stability,” he concluded.

Palestine Foreign Affairs Minister Riyadh al-Maliki told the court that “2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza, half of them children, are besieged and bombed, killed and maimed, starved and displaced.”

“More than 3.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank, including in Jerusalem, are subjected to colonization of their territory and racist violence that enables it,” he added.

Riyad Mansour, Palestine’s Ambassador to the U.N., concluded his emotional remarks, stating, “The Palestinian people only demand respect for their rights. They ask for nothing more. They can accept nothing less, and nothing else.”

READ: Col. Macgregor: Israel’s actions in Gaza could cause its own destruction, WWIII 

The Biden administration continues to provide virtually unconditional military support for Israel’s ongoing assault in Gaza, which has reportedly claimed the lives of at least 30,717 people, including 13,430 children and 9,000 women with a least 7,000 more missing — 70 percent of them women and children — and presumed dead and buried under the rubble.

Additionally, with hundreds of deployments of American-made 2,000 pound bombs, an estimated 50 percent to 62 percent of all buildings in Gaza have been damaged or destroyed.

READ: Col. Macgregor: The ‘top priority’ for Israel is to make Gaza ‘unlivable,’ expel all survivors

Such American supplies of weapons continue unabated despite polls in the United States revealing growing majorities of voters supporting a ceasefire. These numbers trended up to 60 percent in December and then to 67 percent in late February with solid majorities among Democrats, Republicans and Independents calling for an end to the killing.

In recent years, the Israel lobby has been increasingly acknowledged as the driving force that has invincibly secured the virtually unconditional support of the United States for Israel’s ongoing violations of international law, both financially and diplomatically, even to the exclusion of authentic American interests.

Back at the ICJ, Israel declined to participate in the oral hearings but submitted a written statement describing the questions behind the proceedings to be “prejudicial” and “tendentious.”


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