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Ireland to address ICJ case on Israeli occupation

The Irish Government will today make a submission at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in a case concerning Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory.

The proceedings follow a December 2022 resolution of the UN General Assembly, meaning they predate the 7 October massacre in Israel and the ensuing hostilities in Gaza.

The assembly has asked the UN’s top court to examine the legal consequences of the “ongoing violation by Israel of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination” due to its prolonged occupation and settlement of Palestinian territories.

The case is entirely separate from the one brought before the same court by South Africa, which alleges Israel is responsible for violations of the Genocide Convention as a result of its military campaign in Gaza. But it has taken on increased significance in the wake of the current conflict and is likely to increase political pressure on Israel.

Attorney General Rossa Fanning will present a statement to the court at 10.40am on behalf of Ireland, which will be broadcast on the RTÉ News channel.

Ireland is one of over 50 countries to make submissions.

The hearings at The Hague, which began on Monday, are focusing on Israel’s actions over the past several decades.

The General Assembly resolution referred to Israel’s “occupation, settlement and annexation” of Palestinian territory since 1967, including measures related to the city of Jerusalem.

Rossa Fanning will make a statement at around 10.40am

Though the nature of Ireland’s submission has not yet been disclosed, the Government has long opposed the building of illegal Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory.

Since Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu took office at the helm of a far right and ultranationalist government in December 2022, there has been a rapid increase in such settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Around 500,000 Israeli settlers now live in the West Bank, which Israeli forces captured in 1967, alongside around 2.7 million Palestinians.

Earlier this week, Palestinian representatives asked the ICJ to declare Israel’s occupation of their territory illegal. They argued that such a declaration would help progress a two-state solution, which would establish a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Riyad al-Maliki, the foreign minister of the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, told the court that Palestinians had faced decades of discrimination at the hands of Israel.

Several countries have rebuked Israel’s actions in occupied Palestinian territory in their submissions and have called on the court to order the unconditional withdrawal of Israeli forces.

South Africa’s ambassador to the Netherlands, Vusi Madonsela, told the court that Israel’s actions amounted to an “extreme form of apartheid”.

But the US told the court yesterday that an immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces could pose security risks for Israel.

“Any movement towards Israel’s withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza requires consideration for Israel’s very real security needs,” Richard Visek, a legal adviser at the US Department of State, said.

Though Israel is not taking part in the hearings, it has rejected the validity of the case and warned in a written submission that interventions by the court could harm the possibility of reaching a two-state settlement.

The hearings, which began on Monday, are scheduled to run until 26 February.

The 15-judge panel of the ICJ is expected to take several months to reach its conclusions. Rather than a formal judgement, the General Assembly requested a non-binding advisory opinion from the court.

Attorney General Rossa Fanning’s submission will be broadcast on the RTÉ News channel at 10.40am.

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