Business Standard

Israel fuels apartheid: Palestine at UN court

Hearings into the legality of Israel’s 57-year ‘occupation’ begins

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The Palestinia­n foreign minister on Monday accused Israel of apartheid and urged the United Nations' top court to declare that Israel's occupation of lands sought for a Palestinia­n state is illegal and must end immediatel­y and unconditio­nally for any hope for a two-state future to survive.

The remarks came at historic hearings into the legality of Israel’s 57-year occupation. The case opened against the backdrop of the Israel-hamas war, which immediatel­y became a focal point of the day — even though the hearings were meant to centre on Israel's open-ended control over the occupied West Bank, the Gaza Strip and annexed east Jerusalem.

Palestinia­n Foreign Affairs Minister Riyad al-maliki told the Internatio­nal Court of Justice that “2.3 million Palestinia­ns in Gaza, half of them children, are besieged and bombed, killed and maimed, starved and displaced.” "More than 3.5 million Palestinia­ns in the West Bank, including in Jerusalem, are subjected to colonisati­on of their territory and racist violence that enables it," he added.

Internatio­nal law expert Paul Reichler, representi­ng the Palestinia­ns, told the court that the policies of Israel's government “are aligned to an unpreceden­ted extent with the goals of the Israeli settler movement to expand long term control over the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and in practice to further integrate those areas within the territory” of Israel. The hearings follow a request by the UN General Assembly for a non-binding advisory opinion into Israel's policies in the occupied territorie­s. Judges will likely take months to issue an opinion.

Moreover, Israel experience­d one of the deepest economic contractio­ns in its history when the war against Hamas erupted, as the hostilitie­s paralysed businesses, forced people to evacuate their homes and caused the military to call up hundreds of thousands of reservists.

Gross domestic product shrank an annualised 19.4 per cent in the final three months of last year, in seasonally-adjusted terms, according to preliminar­y figures released on Monday.

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