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HomeWorld‘Deepening occupation’: Turkey slams Israel on ICJ final day

‘Deepening occupation’: Turkey slams Israel on ICJ final day

  • Turkey condemns Israel at ICJ
  • Global critique of occupation highlighted
  • US opposes, supports Israel

Turkey has joined a large group of nations in condemning at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) Israel’s prolonged occupation of Palestinian territories over several decades.

On Monday, the final day of the hearings, Turkey’s Deputy Foreign Minister Ahmet Yildiz was the first to speak. The proceedings lasted a week and heard from 52 countries and various international organisations about Israel’s occupation of Palestine.

He said that if Israel and its Western allies had followed international and human rights law, the long-standing conflict could have been resolved by now, and highlighted that the United Nations Security Council has failed to protect the Palestinians’ inalienable rights.

The main issues, he said, were the “deepening occupation by Israel of the Palestinian territories” and the refusal of its allies to commit to a two-state solution.

Turkey reiterated many of the arguments that dozens of countries have made since last week.

Turkey’s Critique Amidst Ongoing Conflict

“Turkey said that Palestinians were subjected to occupation practices dating back to the Middle Ages, and their only need is dignified emancipation,” he explained.

“Also, the Turks put special emphasis on the Haram al-Sharif, also known as the Temple Mount by Jews and Muslims, which has been held in esteem by the Jordanians since the inception of the state of Israel, according to a longstanding principle.” The Israeli government is often accused by Turkey of exploiting the autonomy of Haram al-Sharif.

This case is separate from the genocide lawsuit filed against Israel by South Africa in response to its ongoing war on Gaza, which has killed about 30,000 Palestinians (mostly women and children) since October 7. In the same period, the Israeli army has killed about 400 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

During the ICJ hearing, the Israeli military continued to bombard various areas of the Gaza Strip, killing over ninety Palestinians and injuring 164 in the twenty-four hours before the final hearing.

Assistant professor of public policy at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies Tamer Qarmout said that Turkey had previously taken more extreme measures in its relations with Israel, like cutting diplomatic and economic ties.

“However, we’ve seen a different stance in this war,” he said, adding that while the Turkish government remains critical of Israel, it no longer takes the same positions as in the past.

“I think [this] is related to the internal policies and politics of Turkey,” he said, pointing to the country’s recovery from a severe economic crisis. “They [Turkish officials] are cautious about taking extreme positions so as not to upset other key Western allies.”

Racialism in Power

The ICJ is conducting an unprecedented examination of Israel’s ongoing occupation and the discriminatory system it imposes on Palestinians. This review was initiated by the UN General Assembly in December 2022, which passed a resolution requesting an ICJ opinion.

At the proceedings, the United States supported Israel. Israel chose not to participate on the grounds that its presence could undermine a potential agreement with the Palestinians.

US State Department legal adviser Richard Visek told the court last week, “Under the established framework, any movement towards Israel’s withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza requires consideration of Israel’s very real security needs.”

On Monday, a group of 22 Arab nations reiterated their dissent from Washington on the issue. In a statement to the court, they condemned violations of international law stemming from Israel’s “racially biased treatment and apartheid regime against the Palestinian people.”

Ralph Wilde, a representative, stated, “The Palestinian people have been deprived of the ability to exercise their lawful right to self-determination for over a century due to the violent and racist colonial initiative to create a state in Mandatory Palestine that would be inhabited exclusively by Jews.”

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