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THE HAGUE: Nawaf Salam, President of the Court, gestures during a hearing at the International Court of Justice on Feb 21, 2024 on the legal consequences of the Zionist occupation of Palestinian territories. - AFP
THE HAGUE: Nawaf Salam, President of the Court, gestures during a hearing at the International Court of Justice on Feb 21, 2024 on the legal consequences of the Zionist occupation of Palestinian territories. - AFP
US against ordering Zionists out; ICJ to hear Kuwait’s plea

THE HAGUE: The United States told the UN’s top court on Wednesday that the Zionist entity should not be legally forced to withdraw from occupied Palestinian territory without security guarantees. The International Court of Justice is holding a week of hearings after a request from the United Nations, with an unprecedented 52 countries giving their views on the Zionist entity’s occupation.

Kuwait is set to deliver its plea before the ICJ, the ministry of foreign affairs said. The plea will be given before the United Nations’ top court by Kuwait’s Ambassador to The Hague Ali Al-Thefeeri, its permanent representative to the UN Tariq Al-Bannai and Assistant Foreign Minister for Legal Affairs and Minister Plenipotentiary Tahani Al-Nasser, according to a ministry statement on Wednesday. Kuwait had previously submitted a “written plea” to the ICJ as part of global efforts to back the “rights of the Palestinian people”, added the statement, underlining the measure as a testament to Kuwait’s “unflinching stance” towards Palestinian statehood rights.

Most speakers have demanded that the Zionist entity end its occupation, which came after a six-day Arab-Zionist war in 1967, but Washington came to its ally’s defense at the court. “The court should not find that (the Zionist entity) is legally obligated to immediately and unconditionally withdraw from occupied territory,” said Richard Visek, legal advisor at the US State Department.

“Any movement towards (the Zionist entity’s) withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza requires consideration of (the Zionist entity’s) very real security needs,” he argued. “We were all reminded of those security needs on October 7,” he said, referring to the Hamas attacks that sparked the current conflict. The UN has asked the ICJ to hand down an “advisory opinion” on the “legal consequences arising from the policies and practices of (the Zionist entity) in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem”.

The court will probably deliver its opinion before the end of the year, but it is not binding on anyone. Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki told reporters after the US statement: “I expected much more. I didn’t hear anything new.” Washington has been insisting that the Zionist-Palestinian conflict be addressed in “other fora and not here”, Maliki said. “Well, we tried other fora for the last 75 years and we confronted the US veto and the US hegemony over decision-making processes within the UN system,” he said. “And that’s why we came to the ICJ.”

The Zionist entity is not taking part in the oral hearings, but submitted a written contribution in which it described the questions the court had been asked as “prejudicial” and “tendentious”. The Oct 7 attacks and the ongoing violence in the Gaza Strip “reinforce the United States’ resolve to urgently achieve a final peace”, Visek said.

Also speaking Wednesday, the representative from Egypt, which has played a key role in talks between the Zionist entity and the Palestinians, said the occupation was “a continued violation of international law”. “The consequences of (the Zionist entity’s) prolonged occupation are clear and there can be no peace, no stability, no prosperity without upholding the rule of law,” foreign ministry legal advisor Jasmine Moussa said.

The hearings began Monday with three hours of testimony from Palestinian officials, who accused the Zionist occupiers of running a system of “colonialism and apartheid”. Maliki had urged the judges to call for an end to the occupation “immediately, totally and unconditionally”. South Africa’s ambassador to the Netherlands told the court that the Zionist entity’s policies were “more extreme” than the apartheid black South Africans suffered before 1994.

The case is separate from a high-profile case brought by Pretoria against the Zionist entity for alleged genocide during its current offensive in Gaza. In that case, the ICJ ruled that the Zionist entity should do everything in its power to prevent genocidal acts in Gaza and allow in humanitarian aid. – AFP

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