The Worldwide Courtroom of Justice will hear arguments from greater than 50 international locations this week on the legality of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories. It’s the first time the world’s highest courtroom has been requested to provide an advisory opinion on the difficulty, which has been the topic of years of debates and resolutions on the United Nations.

The hearings are anticipated to give attention to a long time of Israeli actions within the Palestinian territories, together with the West Financial institution and East Jerusalem. However the arguments have gained urgency amid the deadliest ever Israeli-Palestinian warfare, in Gaza, and fewer than a month after the court ordered Israel to restrain its assaults in Gaza in a separate case.

The periods started on Monday on the Peace Palace in The Hague. Israel has not appeared, however it has filed a written submission rejecting the validity of the proceedings.

Here’s what to know.

What’s the Worldwide Courtroom of Justice?

The I.C.J., based mostly in The Hague, was established by the U.N. Constitution in 1945 to rule on problems with worldwide regulation and settle disputes amongst nations. Solely states can deliver circumstances earlier than the courtroom. All international locations belonging to the United Nations are mechanically members of the courtroom and are anticipated to simply accept its jurisdiction.

The courtroom has lengthy had a low profile, typically coping with staid points akin to border disputes. However extra lately it has been drawn into urgent conflicts, notably between Ukraine and Russia and Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza.

The courtroom’s rulings are binding, however it has no energy to implement them; it expects states to place them into place. Governments at occasions ignore them after they consider their pursuits are threatened.

The judges can be requested to provide advisory opinions, as on this occasion. Advisory opinions carry authority and authorized weight, however they don’t seem to be binding.

What’s going to occur on the hearings?

The six days of hearings give attention to the legality of Israel’s “extended occupation, settlement and annexation” of Palestinian territories. The Palestinian Authority’s overseas minister, Riyad al-Maliki, opened the periods, and representatives for the Palestinians — together with a crew of distinguished worldwide legal professionals — are anticipated to argue that Israel has lengthy abused Palestinian rights with impunity.

Beginning Tuesday, different audio system will likely be allotted half-hour every, with representatives of 52 international locations — way over regular for hearings on the courtroom — scheduled to take part. Amongst them are influential supporters of Israel, together with america and Britain, in addition to critics, together with China and Russia.

Whereas these periods have been deliberate for a 12 months, they’ve stirred consideration in gentle of the bloodshed in Gaza and on the heels of a genocide case introduced in opposition to Israel on the courtroom.

Is that this tied to the genocide accusations?

Legally talking, the 2 issues are unrelated. Hearings final month earlier than the identical courtroom have been initiated by South Africa, which hoped to get Israel to scale back the depth of its navy marketing campaign to crush Hamas after the group’s lethal assaults in October. Israel’s invasion of Gaza has largely razed the territory and produced large-scale civilian casualties.

The judges didn’t rule on whether or not Israel was committing genocide in opposition to Palestinians in Gaza however decreed that Israel must take action to forestall it.

Who requested these hearings?

Classes this week have been requested by a decision of the United Nations Normal Meeting in December 2022. Basically the judges are being requested to assessment a panoply of Israel’s longtime insurance policies and the legality of Israel’s persevering with occupation.

What’s driving them?

One focus will likely be Israel’s settlement coverage within the West Financial institution and East Jerusalem — each formally promoted growth of settlements for Israeli residents on Palestinian territory in addition to the federal government’s tolerance of violent land grabs by settlers.

Each Israeli authorities has allowed some Israeli building, however the Netanyahu authorities has expanded this system and introduced plans for 1000’s of recent housing models. Greater than 400,000 Israelis have settled in the West Bank since 1967.

Navanethem Pillay, who led a U.N. fee of inquiry that urged the Normal Meeting to hunt the courtroom opinion on the legality of the occupation, stated, “Israel has ignored quite a few U.N. resolutions, together with on unlawful settlement.” However the courtroom had by no means regarded into the lawfulness of extended occupation.

How are the I.C.J. and I.C.C. completely different?

The Worldwide Legal Courtroom and the Worldwide Courtroom of Justice are sometimes confused. The I.C.C., began in 2002, is a legal courtroom unbiased of the United Nations and prosecutes circumstances in opposition to people reasonably than nationwide governments. It hears circumstances involving probably the most critical worldwide crimes, together with genocide, crimes in opposition to humanity and warfare crimes.

A case was introduced by the Palestinians against Israeli leaders on the I.C.C. in 2015, however there was little progress.

When will an advisory opinion be issued?

Joan E. Donoghue, an American choose who ended her time period as I.C.J. president this month, lately stated the opinion would wish to reply “an advanced and fairly detailed set of questions.” Arriving at these solutions, she stated, would take at the least a number of months.

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