A day after vetoing calls for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza, the US on Wednesday defended Israel’s decades-long occupation of the West Financial institution and East Jerusalem, arguing on the United Nations’ highest courtroom that Israel confronted “very actual safety wants.”

The most recent U.S. protection of Israel on the worldwide stage got here on the Worldwide Courtroom of Justice in The Hague, the place Richard C. Visek, the appearing authorized adviser on the U.S. State Division, urged a 15-judge panel to not name for Israel’s speedy withdrawal from occupied Palestinian territory. He stated that solely the institution of an impartial Palestinian state alongside Israel may result in lasting peace, repeating a longstanding U.S. place however one whose prospects seem much more elusive amid the battle in Gaza.

The courtroom is listening to six days of arguments over the legality of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian-majority territories, together with the West Financial institution and East Jerusalem, which has been the topic of years of debates and resolutions on the United Nations. The hearings — involving greater than 50 international locations — had been referred to as lengthy earlier than Israel went to battle towards Hamas in Gaza, however have change into a part of a concerted world effort to cease the battle and look at the legality of Israel’s insurance policies towards Palestinians.

Israel has stated it could not take part within the hearings, and despatched a letter to the courtroom final yr arguing that the main focus of the proceedings did not “acknowledge Israel’s proper and responsibility to guard its residents” or its proper to safety.

America has strongly defended Israel throughout the battle, together with on Tuesday, when it cast the lone veto towards a U.N. Safety Council decision that referred to as for an instantaneous cease-fire, saying it could disrupt efforts to free hostages held in Gaza.

On Wednesday, Mr. Visek requested the courtroom to uphold the “established framework” for peace that he stated U.N. our bodies have agreed to — one that’s contingent on a “broader finish to belligerence” towards Israel — somewhat than heed calls by different nations for Israel’s “unilateral and unconditional withdrawal” from occupied territories.

The Oct. 7 Hamas-led assaults on Israel had been a reminder of the threats going through the nation and of its safety wants, Mr. Visek stated, “they usually persist.”

“Regrettably, these wants have been ignored by lots of the members in asserting how the courtroom ought to think about the questions earlier than it,” he stated, referring to others international locations’ testimony within the hearings.

The courtroom, which usually hears staid disputes amongst nations, has currently change into a venue for international locations to oppose Israel. Final month, South Africa argued on the courtroom that Israel was committing genocide towards Palestinians in Gaza — a cost Israel strongly rejected. The judges haven’t dominated on that declare, however issued an interim order for Israel to take steps to prevent genocide in Gaza.

On Tuesday, South Africa forcefully condemned Israel’s insurance policies towards Palestinians, calling them “a extra excessive type of apartheid,” the race-based system of legal guidelines that disadvantaged Black South Africans for many years.

Israel has lengthy rejected accusations that it operates an apartheid system, calling such allegations a slur and pointing to what it says is a historical past of being singled out for condemnation by U.N. our bodies and tribunals.

America has remained Israel’s staunchest defender internationally. However the Biden administration, below growing stress from elements of the Democratic Get together, has additionally proven indicators of impatience with Israel’s conduct of the battle, the rising toll in Gaza and the plight of Palestinians below Israeli occupation.

President Biden this month stated that Israel’s navy response in Gaza — which started after Hamas’s Oct. 7 assaults — had been “over the top” and that the immense civilian struggling had “acquired to cease.” The remarks got here days after Mr. Biden imposed broad financial sanctions against four Israeli men over violent assaults towards Palestinians within the West Financial institution.

After the hearings, that are scheduled to conclude on Monday, the courtroom will give an advisory opinion, a call that’s anticipated to take a number of months. The opinion shall be nonbinding.

Cassandra Vinograd contributed reporting.


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