US and its politicians defend Israel’s occupation and civilian casualties in Gaza at International Court

As the international community awaits the ICJ's verdict, the U.S. position underscores the complex diplomatic landscape surrounding the Israeli occupation and the search for a sustainable peace solution.

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Image Credit: Michel Porro/Getty Images

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) heard arguments this Wednesday from Richard Visek, the acting legal adviser for the U.S. State Department, regarding the ongoing occupation of Palestinian territories by Israeli forces. Visek contended that the court should refrain from supporting global calls for Israel to withdraw its forces, suggesting that such a move would not be conducive to achieving lasting peace in the region.

According to Visek, a unilateral, immediate, and unconditional withdrawal, as proposed by some participants in the ICJ proceedings, fails to consider Israel’s security needs. “The court should not find that Israel is legally obligated to immediately and unconditionally withdraw from occupied territory,” Visek stated, underscoring the Biden administration’s support for a two-state solution while challenging the notion that ending the occupation is a prerequisite for peace.

The U.S. stance comes in stark contrast to the positions of other nations and legal experts participating in the ICJ proceedings. Paul Reichler, representing Palestine, argued that occupation is inherently temporary and criticized the U.S. for defending Israel’s actions, stating, “A permanent occupation is a legal oxymoron.”

Among the countries involved in the ICJ discussions on Israel’s occupation, only the U.S. and Fiji have advised against declaring the occupation illegal. Israel, under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has abstained from participating in the hearings, dismissing them as illegitimate.

The ICJ’s deliberations follow a request from the U.N. General Assembly for a nonbinding opinion on the legal consequences of Israel’s protracted occupation. This inquiry was prompted by the ICJ’s recent preliminary ruling that labeled Israel’s actions in Gaza as potentially genocidal, a characterization rejected by the U.S. and other Israeli allies.

Representatives from Colombia, Cuba, and Egypt, speaking before the ICJ, condemned the occupation and urged the court to make a decisive stand. Cuban diplomat Anayansi Rodriguez Camejo emphasized the dire situation facing the Palestinian people and criticized those who have supported Israel’s policies, urging the ICJ to support international law unequivocally.

In a controversial statement, GOP Rep. Andy Ogles of Tennessee expressed a hardline stance on the conflict, suggesting that all Palestinians in Gaza should be targeted in response to attacks on Israel. This remark was made during a confrontation with an activist and has since sparked calls for censure or expulsion from Congress, highlighting the polarized views within the U.S. regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

As the international community awaits the ICJ’s verdict, the U.S. position underscores the complex diplomatic landscape surrounding the Israeli occupation and the search for a sustainable peace solution. “The scale of death and destruction is astronomical,” said Jason Lee from Save the Children.

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