Before the International Court of Justice, Washington continues to defend Israel

Washington, as well as France, pleaded on the third day of hearings before the ICJ, which must deliver a legal opinion on the legality of the Israeli occupation. The United States has been adamant that Israel should not be legally required to withdraw from the occupied Palestinian territories without security guarantees.

Ten states pleaded before the International Court of Justice, which is holding hearings on the legal consequences of Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories, in The Hague, Netherlands, February 21, 2024. © PIROSCHKA VAN DE WOUW / Reuters

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Third day of hearings before the

International Court of Justice

(ICJ). Since Monday February 19, an unprecedented number of 52 countries have been called to testify. In December 2022, the United Nations General Assembly requested the opinion of the highest legal authority on the legality of the Israeli occupation. This Wednesday, 

ten states pleaded

, including France and the United States. 

And once again, Washington stands by its Israeli ally,

despite international pressure

and discontent from the left of the Democratic Party over the continuation

of the war in Gaza.

In The Hague, the US State Department lawyer, Richard Visek, engaged in a formal defense of Israel's control of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank, East Jerusalem

and Gaza

. For him, an advisory opinion from the Court could hamper peace efforts if it does not take into account “

Israel's security needs


Concretely, Washington asked the judges to “

preserve and promote

” the negotiation framework established since 1967 in UN resolutions, reports our correspondent in The Hague,

Stéphanie Maupas

. Otherwise, to change nothing, at the risk – according to the United States – of “ 

making the negotiations more difficult

”. They further also asked the Court not to conclude “

that Israel is legally obligated to immediately withdraw from the Palestinian territories


Also read: Gaza: “If Washington says stop, it will be the only time Israel says no”

The United States alone in its position

The Palestinian side did not fail to emphasize American isolation on this issue, while other countries participate in the hearings. This is not the first time that the United States finds itself alone with its ally. On three occasions – the latest of which was this Tuesday – a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza was vetoed by the United States.

At the same time, the Biden administration says it is working on a text defending a cessation of hostilities as soon as possible, when Israel's security is assured. In other words, not before Hamas is incapacitated. Faced with international and domestic pressure, particularly from the left of the Democratic Party and Muslim Americans, the White House has expressed

its frustration with the attitude

of the Israeli Prime Minister. A speech which does not, however, prevent him from remaining united in his actions. 

I haven't heard anything new

,” responded the head of Palestinian diplomacy, Riad Al-Maliki, to the American position. Washington insisted that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict be addressed “ 

in other forums and not here

,” he said. “

We have tried other forums over the past 75 years and we have faced the American veto and American hegemony over the decision-making processes within the United Nations system

,” he continued.

And that's why we came to the ICJ.



France will never recognize the illegal annexation of Palestinian territory


Before the American delegation, Colombia, Cuba, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt considered the Israeli occupation illegal. Cuba criticized the use of the veto by the Americans to cover up illegal situations. The Emirates insisted on the need to preserve the spiritual and religious dimension of Jerusalem. Hungary, heard at the end of the afternoon, largely followed the American pleading. 

For its part, France, the rare European country to have appeared at the Court, reiterated its positions on the war in Gaza. His lawyers added that Israel must stop violating the Palestinian people's right to self-determination and repair the damage caused to the Palestinians.

Because for the director of legal affairs at the Quai d'Orsay, Diego Colas, this has consequences. “

This results in an obligation for all States not to recognize any situation created in serious violation of international law. Any form of annexation, including partial, cannot therefore be recognized under international law. In this regard, in the occupied Palestinian territories, as everywhere else, France will never recognize the illegal annexation of territory

,” he declared.

He also reiterated

 France’s “

constant support ” “

for a

negotiated two-state solution

” and called for a “

decisive and credible 

” relaunch of the peace process. Hearings before the ICJ continue until February 26, and the judges' decision is expected within six months.

Also read: ICJ: “Israeli occupation policy will be examined from the perspective of international law”


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