‘Israel intends the complete disappearance of Palestine’ – Riyad al-Maliki tells ICJ

Family in Gaza injured and traumatised after the recent Israeli bombing

PALESTINE Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki called on judges at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) yesterday to order an end to Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.

Al-Maliki and Palestine’s United Nations envoy Riyad Mansour, along with several academic and legal experts, represented Palestine at the hearings that began in The Hague yesterday and will conclude on Monday February 26.

The case is separate from the genocide case by South Africa against Israel for its ongoing deadly war on Gaza.

In December 2022, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) passed a resolution calling on the ICJ to give an advisory or nonbinding opinion on Israel’s 57-year occupation of Palestinian territories, receiving 87 votes in favour and 26 against.

Al-Maliki began his statement: ‘I stand before you as 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza, half of them children, are besieged and bombed, killed and maimed, starved and displaced; as more than 3.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are subjected to colonisation of their territory and the racist violence that enables it; as 1.7 million Palestinians in Israel are treated as second-class citizens … in their ancestral land; as seven million Palestine refugees continue to be denied the right to return to their land and homes.’

‘Palestine was not a land without a people. There was life on this land – political, cultural, social and religious. It had schools, universities, cinemas, families and communities whose lives were impacted by a promise made thousands of miles away over 100 years ago.’

Al-Maliki continued by presenting to the court five maps.

‘The first one is the map of historic Palestine, the territory over which the Palestinian people should have been able to exercise their right to self-determination.

‘The second map shows the 1947 UN Partition Map, which ignored the will of Palestinians. The third map shows three-fourths of historic Palestine becoming Israel from 1948 to 1967.

‘From the first day of its occupation, Israel started colonising and annexing the land with the aim of making its occupation irreversible. It left us with a collection of disconnected Bantustans preventing the independence of our state as shown in Map 4.

‘The fifth one is a map presented by Netanyahu at the UNGA described as “the new Middle East”. There is no Palestine at all on this map, only Israel comprised of all the land from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.

‘This shows you what the prolonged, continuous occupation of Palestine is intended to accomplish: the complete disappearance of Palestine and the destruction of the Palestinian people. There can be no justification for these injustices and these indignities, allowing them to continue is unacceptable and inexcusable.’

UN envoy Riyad Mansour concluded his speech with: ‘A finding from this distinguished court that the occupation is illegal and drawing the legal consequences from this determination would contribute to bringing it to an immediate end, paving the way to just and lasting peace. The state of Palestine appeals to this court to guide the international community in upholding international law.’

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