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Israel Engaged In 'Process Of Annexing' Palestinian Territory, Ireland Tells UN Court

22.02.2024 15:42

Israel prevented Palestinian people's right to self determination, Irish delegation adds.

Israel is and has been engaged in a "process of annexation" of the occupied Palestinian territories, Ireland's delegation to the International Court of Justice said on Thursday.

"The evident permanence of the settlements can only be explained, in Ireland's assessment, by Israel's intention of annexing the land upon which they are built.

"In our view, the development and expansion of settlements clearly demonstrate that Israel is and has been engaged in a process of annexation of that land for decades," Ireland's representative Attorney General Rossa Fanning said during the public hearings at The Hague.

He criticized Israel for justifying its military activities by self-defense, and "fundamentally" altering the demographics of the West Bank.

"This destruction and appropriation of property cannot reasonably be justified by military necessity," Fanning explained. "Neither the duration of the occupation, nor the scale and extent of settlement activity is, in Ireland's view, justified or permitted by the law regulating the use of force in self-defense."

The representative recalled that the use of force in self-defense should be necessary and proportionate, according to international law - limits that Israel "exceeded."

Palestinians' right to self-determination

Fanning added that the "prolonged occupation of Palestinian lands, and continuous settlement activity" deprived the Palestinian people of "their rights to self-determination."

"It threatens the viability of a future Palestinian state. The nature, scale, and duration of settlement activity is such that its purpose can only be to permanently obstruct the exercise of the Palestinian people's right to self-determination," the representative further explained.

Political solution

Fanning recalled that Ireland has repeatedly called for a cease-fire, and advocated for "a comprehensive two-state solution to the conflict."

He regretted, in this context, the lack of progress toward that objective.

"In our view, the only effective solution to the problem can be a political one," he stressed, and criticized the US delegation's statement on Wednesday before the court.

"We do not agree therefore, that a ruling by this course would undermine the established negotiating framework," he said.

The US representative earlier called on the ICJ to "carefully calibrate" its advice. "The challenge for the court is how to provide its advice in a way that promotes the framework rather than disrupting its balance, potentially making the possibility of negotiations even more difficult," Richard Visek said.

Case brought to ICJ

The public hearings started on Monday in the Hague following the UN General Assembly's request for an advisory opinion on the legal consequences arising from policies and practices of Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.

More than 50 countries are presenting their arguments.

South Africa brought a genocide case against Israel to the ICJ in late December and asked it for emergency measures to end the bloodshed in Gaza, where more than 29,000 Palestinians have been killed since Oct. 7.

The court in January ordered Israel to take "all measures within its power" to prevent acts of genocide in Gaza but fell short of ordering a cease-fire.

It also ordered Israel to take "immediate and effective" measures to enable the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance in the Gaza Strip.

A cross-border incursion by the Palestinian group, Hamas, on Oct. 7 killed an estimated 1,200 people, but the ensuing Israeli offensive into Gaza has pushed 85% of the territory's population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water, and medicine, while 60% of the enclave's infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

Despite international outcry, Israel now plans a ground invasion of Rafah, which holds around 1.4 million refugees.

For the first time since its establishment in 1948, Israel is currently being tried before the ICJ, the highest judicial body in the UN, on charges of committing the crime of "genocide" against Palestinians in Gaza. -

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