update deskIsrael-Palestinian Conflict

US opposes calls at ICJ for immediate Israeli withdrawal

The American representative also stressed Jerusalem's "very real" and "legitimate" security needs.

The opening day of public hearings on Israel's "ongoing occupation" of Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem at the International Court of justice at The Hague, Netherlands, Feb. 19 2024. Source: X.
The opening day of public hearings on Israel's "ongoing occupation" of Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem at the International Court of justice at The Hague, Netherlands, Feb. 19 2024. Source: X.

The United States on Wednesday called on the International Court of Justice not to issue an advisory opinion that Israel must immediately withdraw from Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem.

Instead, Richard Visek, acting legal adviser at the U.S. State Department, argued on day three of public hearings at The Hague on Israel’s “ongoing occupation” that the conflict with the Palestinians should be resolved within “the established framework,” citing United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.

He also emphasized Israel’s “very real security needs” for the judges to consider, citing the Hamas-led Oct. 7 massacre as an example and pointing out that some of the participants have ignored those security considerations that persist.

“In any consideration by the court of these or other issues, 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,” Visek said.

“In this regard, it would not, as some participants suggest, be conducive to the achievement of the established framework to issue an opinion that calls for a unilateral, immediate and unconditional withdrawal by Israel that does not account for Israel’s legitimate security needs,” he continued.

Fifty-two countries and three international organizations are taking the stand at the Peace Palace in The Hague, the seat of the court, with the hearings going on until Feb. 26.

The court is hearing arguments due to a request submitted by the U.N. General Assembly pursuant to a Dec. 30, 2022, resolution calling for an examination of the “Legal Consequences arising from the Policies and Practices of Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.”

A nonbinding legal opinion is expected after months of deliberation by the judges.

Israel has chosen not to send a representative, saying the court lacks jurisdiction to consider the matter.

The Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem said in a statement on Monday that “Israel does not recognize the legitimacy of the proceedings of the international court in The Hague regarding ‘the legality of the occupation,’” calling it “an effort designed to infringe on Israel’s right to defend itself against existential threats.

“The proceedings are “part of the Palestinian attempt to dictate the results of the diplomatic settlement without negotiations. We will continue to reject this; the government and the Knesset are united in rejecting this unacceptable course of action,” the PMO added.

In December, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the U.N. resolution “disgraceful,” adding, “The Jewish people is not occupying its land and is not occupying its eternal capital Jerusalem. No U.N. resolution can distort this historical truth.”

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