How long has Israel occupied the Palestinian territories? Is it legal?

In its statement, Israel said the questions the U.N. resolution posed to the ICJ “represent a clear distortion of the history and present reality of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Palestinian interests, on the other hand, were represented in-person at the proceedings. The State of Palestine (as the Palestinian territories are known at the U.N., where they have non-member observer status) was the first party to testify in front of the court. They argued that Israel’s occupation breaches the U.N.’s founding charter by denying Palestinians the “right to self-determination” — a right that the charter says is fundamental to peaceful international relations.

“It has taken the Palestinian people decades of painful struggle to stand before you today,” said Riad Malki, the Palestinian minister for foreign affairs and expatriates, in Monday’s remarks. “We appeal to the Court to uphold our rights to self-determination, return and all other human rights, including by declaring that the Israeli occupation is illegal and must end immediately, totally and unconditionally.”

Other countries scheduled to participate in the oral hearings include the United States, China, Russia, and South Africa. South Africa brought another case to the ICJ at the end of 2023 accusing Israel of genocide against the Palestinian people for its military operations in the Gaza Strip since Oct. 7.

On Oct. 7, Hamas launched an attack against Israel, killing about 1,200 Israelis, mostly civilians, and taking more than 200 hostages. In response to the attack, Israel launched a “complete siege” on Gaza that has now killed at least 29,000 Palestinians, most of them women and children, leading some to declare the conflict “the deadliest and most destructive” military campaign in recent history.

How long has Israel occupied the Palestinian territories?

Before the establishment of Israel, the U.N. passed a resolution that proposed splitting the territory then known as Palestine into two states – one comprised mostly of Palestinian Arabs and the other made up mostly of Jewish people, including many from Europe who had settled in the area after fleeing the Nazis.

However, conflict between Arab and Jewish groups started after the U.N. resolution, preventing the proposal from coming to fruition. In 1948, Israel declared itself a sovereign nation, and war broke out between Israel and the surrounding Arab nations. Israel started annexing Palestinian territory during this war (known as the First Arab-Israeli War), and by the end of the conflict, Israel had expanded its borders to include 77% of what was considered Palestine before 1947.

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