China asks World Court to speak out on ‘unlawful’ Israeli occupation

By Thomson Reuters Feb 22, 2024 | 5:51 AM

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – China asked the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Thursday to give its opinion on Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian Territories, which it said was illegal.

“Justice has been long delayed, but it must not be denied,” China’s Foreign Ministry’s legal adviser Ma Xinmin told the court in The Hague, in the Netherlands.

“Fifty-seven years have passed since Israel began its occupation of the OPT (Occupied Palestinian Territories). The unlawful nature of the occupation and sovereignty over the occupied territories remain unchanged,” he said.

The U.N.’s top court, also known as the World Court, this week is hearing arguments from more than 50 states following a request by the U.N. General Assembly in 2022 to issue a non-binding opinion on the legal consequences of the Israeli occupation.

The hearings are part of a Palestinian push to get international legal institutions to examine Israel’s conduct, which has become more urgent since the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas in Israel, which killed 1,200 people, and Israel’s military response that has since killed about 29,000 Palestinians.

Israel, which is not taking part in the hearings, said in written comments that the court’s involvement could be harmful to achieving a negotiated settlement.

On Monday, Palestinian representatives asked the judges to declare Israel’s occupation of their territory illegal and said its opinion could help reach a two-state solution.

The judges are expected to take roughly six months to issue an opinion on the request.

(Reporting by Bart Meijer; Editing by Alex Richardson)