Final day of ICJ hearing: OIC says two-state solution in Palestine imperative to regional peace

The ICJ is holding hearings all week on the legal implications of Israel's occupation since 1967, with an unprecedented 52 countries, including the US and Russia, giving evidence. (File/AFP)
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Updated 26 February 2024

Final day of ICJ hearing: OIC says two-state solution in Palestine imperative to regional peace

  • Turkiye, Arab League, and the African Union also delivered arguments on final day of hearings
  • Overwhelming condemnation of Israel’s actions at World Court

THE HAGUE: Representatives of Turkiye, the Arab League, Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and the African Union presented arguments on Monday, on the final day of proceedings at the UN’s highest court, on the legality of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.

Over one week, the judges of the International Court of Justice, also known as the World Court, heard arguments from more than 50 states and three international organizations following a request by the UN General Assembly in 2022 for the court to issue a non-binding opinion on the legal consequences of the Israeli occupation.

Gaza genocide is the essence of decades-long tragedy: African Union

African Union representative, Hajer Gueldich, told the ICJ that the “unspeakable suffering and horror inflicted on the population of Gaza” is the essence of the Palestinian tragedy for over a century.

She called Israel’s ongoing war on Gaza as “nothing but a shameful attempt to create another Nakba, a further catastrophe destined to erasing the Palestinian presence in Palestine.”

“The history of Palestine is a history of dispossession, displacement, and dehumanization. It’s a history of injustice.”

She said the ongoing Israeli aggression against Gaza demonstrates the tragedy of the Palestinians who have been “systematically subjugated and oppressed by the Israeli colonial project” for over seven decades.

The advisory proceeding, she noted, presents an opportunity to hold Israel accountable for attacks, put an immediate end to Israel’s “impunity” and uphold international humanitarian law.

OIC says two-state solution imperative to regional peace

Hussein Ibrahim Taha, Secretary General of the OIC, said “a just, lasting and comprehensive peace based on a two-state solution in Palestine is only way to ensure security and stability of all people in the region and protect them from the cycle of violence.”

He urged countries to cease exporting arms and ammunition to Israel as “the army and settlers are using them against the Palestinian people” and called on the ICJ to condemn the accelerated colonization of East Jerusalem and the Israeli attacks against the Islamic and Christian holy places.

Taha reiterated the organization’s condemnation of Israel’s attack on Gaza, which killed about 30,000 Palestinians and injured thousands more, as well as the escalated violence in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

He also deplored the inability of the Security Council “to uphold international law to end the spiral violence and render justice to the Palestinian people.”

Arab League says Gaza genocide is result of failure to end prolonged occupation

Abdulhakeem Al Rifai, representative of the Arab League, said failure to end the prolonged Israeli occupation of Palestine “has led to the current horrors perpetrated against the Palestinians [in Gaza] amounting to genocide.”

He said the occupation is an “affront to international justice.”

“There can be no moral or juridical justification for occupying lands, killing, terrorizing, and displacing their populations.”

He called Israel the “last oppressive, expansionist apartheid settler colonial occupation still standing in the 21st century”, urging the ICJ to confirm the illegality of Israel’s occupation and “unambiguously rule on legal consequences for all parties especially those who turn a blind eye, facilitate, assist or participate in any way in perpetrating this illegal situation.”

“Only the rule of law not the prevailing law of the jungle will pave the way to peace in the region,” he said.

“Ending the occupation is the gateway to peaceful coexistence”.

He noted that the insistence of placing Israel above the law through the politicization of accountability and adopting double standards were “a direct threat to international peace and stability.”

Turkiye warns of danger of leaving Israel ‘unaccountable’

Ahmet Yıldız, the deputy foreign minister, told warned the UN top court of the risks of leaving Israel’s ‘indiscriminate attacks’ on Palestinian civilians in Gaza unaccountable.

“As the injustices and double standards that the Palestinians have been subjected to for decades continue, reactions from people in the region and beyond will multiply. In other words, we must hold accountable before the law those responsible for their attacks on civilians otherwise such outrageous behavior might be emulated elsewhere in the future.”

He condemned Israel’s plans to limit access of Muslim worshipers in Al Aqsa Mosque during the holy month of Ramadan, noting that the rhetoric repeated by Israeli ministers “is worrisome.”

Yıldız reiterated Turkiye’s calls for the international community to address the root cause of Palestine-Israel war as the only method to bring regional peace.

He argued that the conflict did not start from Oct. 7, and wasn’t “about a certain Palestinian faction or group. The conflict dates back to an earlier century.”

He added: “The real obstacle to peace Is obvious – the deepening occupation by Israel of Palestinian territories and failure to implement the two-state solution.”

Israel’s military offensive on Gaza since Oct. 7 has killed almost 30,000 Palestinians, most of them are woman and children, and placed 2.3 million people under full blockade by Israel. More than 2 million Palestinians have been forcibly displaced.

“Israel’s attacks have turned into collective punishment,” said Yıldız.

“The lack of political interest among the international community to address root causes of the conflict created a strong sense of injustice among the Palestinians and, in general, among international community.”

He accused the UN Security council, which, he said, has the primary responsibility for maintaining international order and security, of failing to bring solution in Gaza.

On the first day of hearings on Monday, Feb 19, Palestine’s representatives asked the judges to declare Israel’s occupation of their territory illegal and said its opinion could help create conditions for agreement on a two-state solution.

Most nations have been critical of Israel’s conduct in the occupied territories, with many urging the court to declare the occupation illegal.

However, the US has stood by its ally, arguing against immediate and unconditional withdrawal from the occupied territory.

Israel, which is not taking part, said in written comments that the court’s involvement could be harmful to achieving a negotiated settlement.

The hearings are part of a Palestinian push to get international legal institutions to examine Israel’s conduct, which has become more urgent since the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas in Israel, which triggered a military response that has since killed about 29,600 Palestinians.

The ICJ’s 15-judge panel has been asked to review Israel’s “occupation, settlement and annexation ... including measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, and from its adoption of related discriminatory legislation and measures.”

The judges are expected to take about six months to issue their opinion on the request.

Syrian first lady Asma Assad has leukemia, presidency says

Updated 21 May 2024

Syrian first lady Asma Assad has leukemia, presidency says

  • Statement stated that Asma would undergo a special treatment protocol that would require her to isolate

DUBAI: Syria’s first lady, Asma Assad, has been diagnosed with leukemia, the Syrian presidency said on Tuesday, almost five years after she announced she had fully recovered from breast cancer.
The statement said Asma, 48, would undergo a special treatment protocol that would require her to isolate, and that she would step away from public engagements as a result.
In August 2019, Asma said she had fully recovered from breast cancer that she said had been discovered early.
Since Syria plunged into war in 2011, the British-born former investment banker has taken on the public role of leading charity efforts and meeting families of killed soldiers, but has also become hated by the opposition.
She runs the Syria Trust for Development, a large NGO that acts as an umbrella organization for many of the aid and development operations in Syria.
Last year, she accompanied her husband, President Bashar Assad ,on a visit to the United Arab Emirates, her first known official trip abroad with him since 2011. She met Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, the Emirati president’s mother, during a trip seen as a public signal of her growing role in public affairs.

Yemen’s Houthis say they downed US drone over Al-Bayda province

Updated 21 May 2024

Yemen’s Houthis say they downed US drone over Al-Bayda province

  • The Houthis said last Friday they downed another US MQ9 drone over the southeastern province of Maareb

DUBAI: Yemen’s Houthis downed a US MQ9 drone over Al-Bayda province in southern Yemen, the Iran-aligned group’s military spokesperson said in a televised statement on Tuesday.

Yahya Saree said the drone was targeted with a locally made surface-to-air missile and that videos to support the claim would be released.

The Houthis said last Friday they downed another US MQ9 drone over the southeastern province of Maareb.

The group, which controls Yemen’s capital and most populous areas of the Arabian Peninsula state, has attacked international shipping in the Red Sea since November in solidarity with the Palestinians in the war between Israel and Hamas militants, drawing US and British retaliatory strikes since February.

Iranians pay last respects to President Ebrahim Raisi

Updated 43 min 3 sec ago

Iranians pay last respects to President Ebrahim Raisi

  • Mourners set off from a central square in the northwestern city of Tabriz
  • Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei declares five days of national mourning

TEHRAN: Tens of thousands of Iranians gathered Tuesday to mourn president Ebrahim Raisi and seven members of his entourage who were killed in a helicopter crash on a fog-shrouded mountainside in the northwest.

Waving Iranian flags and portraits of the late president, mourners set off from a central square in the northwestern city of Tabriz, where Raisi was headed when his helicopter crashed on Sunday.

They walked behind a lorry carrying the coffins of Raisi and his seven aides.

Their helicopter lost communications while it was on its way back to Tabriz after Raisi attended the inauguration of a joint dam project on the Aras river, which forms part of the border with Azerbaijan, in a ceremony with his counterpart Ilham Aliyev.

A massive search and rescue operation was launched on Sunday when two other helicopters flying alongside Raisi’s lost contact with his aircraft in bad weather.

State television announced his death in a report early on Monday, saying “the servant of the Iranian nation, Ayatollah Ebrahim Raisi, has achieved the highest level of martyrdom,” showing pictures of him as a voice recited the Qur’an.

Killed alongside the Iranian president were Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, provincial officials and members of his security team.

Iran’s armed forces chief of staff Mohammad Bagheri ordered an investigation into the cause of the crash as Iranians in cities nationwide gathered to mourn Raisi and his entourage.

Tens of thousands gathered in the capital’s Valiasr Square on Monday.

Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has ultimate authority in Iran, declared five days of national mourning and assigned vice president Mohammad Mokhber, 68, as caretaker president until a presidential election can be held.

State media later announced that the election would will be held on June 28.

Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri, who served as deputy to Amir-Abdollahian, was named acting foreign minister.

From Tabriz, Raisi’s body will be flown to the Shiite clerical center of Qom on Tuesday before being moved to Tehran that evening.

Processions will be held in in the capital on Wednesday morning before Khamenei leads prayers at a farewell ceremony.

Raisi’s body will then be flown to his home city of Mashhad, in the northeast, where he will be buried on Thursday evening after funeral rites.

Raisi, 63, had been in office since 2021. The ultra-conservative’s time in office saw mass protests, a deepening economic crisis and unprecedented armed exchanges with arch-enemy Israel.

Raisi succeeded the moderate Hassan Rouhani, at a time when the economy was battered by US sanctions imposed over Iran’s nuclear activities.

Condolence messages flooded in from Iran’s allies around the region, including the Syrian government, Palestinian militant group Hamas and Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

It was an unprecedented Hamas attack on Israel that sparked the devastating war in Gaza, now in its eighth month, and soaring tensions between Israel and the “resistance axis” led by Iran.

Israel’s killing of seven Revolutionary Guards in a drone strike on the Iranian consulate in Damascus on April 1 triggered Iran’s first ever direct attack on Israel, involving hundreds of missiles and drones.

In a speech hours before his death, Raisi underlined Iran’s support for the Palestinians, a centerpiece of its foreign policy since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Palestinian flags were raised alongside Iranian flags at ceremonies held for the late president.

Israeli army raids West Bank’s Jenin, Palestinians say seven killed

Updated 21 May 2024

Israeli army raids West Bank’s Jenin, Palestinians say seven killed

  • Among the Palestinians killed was a surgical doctor, the head of the Jenin Governmental Hospital said

JENIN: Israeli forces raided Jenin in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday in an operation that the Palestinian health ministry said killed seven Palestinians, including a doctor, and left nine others wounded.
The army said it was an operation against militants and that a number of Palestinian gunmen were shot. There was no immediate word of any Israeli casualties.
The health ministry account of the casualties was quoted by the official Palestinian news agency WAFA.
Among the Palestinians killed was a surgical doctor, the head of the Jenin Governmental Hospital said. He was killed in the vicinity of the hospital, the director said.
The West Bank is among territories Israel seized in a 1967 Middle East war. The Palestinians want it to be the core of an independent Palestinian state. US-sponsored talks on a two-state solution to the decades-old conflict broke down in 2014.

Dubai DXB airport sees record 2024 traffic after 8.4% rise in Q1

Updated 21 May 2024

Dubai DXB airport sees record 2024 traffic after 8.4% rise in Q1

  • Dubai airport welcomed around 23 million passengers in January-March period, operator says 
  • India, Saudi Arabia and Britain were top three countries by passenger volumes in first quarter

DUBAI: Dubai’s main airport expects to handle a record passenger traffic this year after an 8.4% rise in the first quarter compared with a year earlier, operator Dubai Airports said on Tuesday.

Dubai International Airport (DXB), a major global travel hub, welcomed around 23 million passengers in the January-March period, the operator said in a statement, noting that the uptick was partly driven by increased destination offers by flagship carrier Emirates and its sister low-cost airline Flydubai.

“With a strong start to Q2 and an optimistic outlook for the rest of the year, we have revised our forecast for the year to 91 million guests, surpassing our previous annual traffic record of 89.1 million in 2018,” CEO Paul Griffiths said in the statement.

Dubai is the biggest tourism and trade hub in the Middle East, attracting a record 17.15 million international overnight visitors last year.

Its ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum last month approved a new passenger terminal in Al Maktoum International airport worth 128 billion dirhams ($34.85 billion).

The Al Maktoum International Airport will be the largest in the world with a capacity of up to 260 million passengers, and five times the size of DXB, he said, adding all operations at Dubai airport would be transferred to Al Maktoum in the coming years.

DXB is connected to 256 destinations across 102 countries. In the first quarter, India, Saudi Arabia and Britain were the top three countries by passenger numbers, Dubai Airports added. ($1 = 3.6729 UAE dirham)