Adjust size of text


Follow us and continue the conversation

Your saved articles

You haven't saved any articles

What are you looking for?

ICJ to rule on West Bank occupation

As settler violence continues, the UN is seeking an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on the legality of Israel’s control over the West Bank.
TJI Wrap
Print this
Hebrew grafitti with a Star of David

Grafitti reading “Revenge Death to Arabs” on a wall in the West Bank town of Turmus Ayya, February 18, 2024 (X)

Published: 20 February 2024

Last updated: 21 March 2024

As settler violence continues, the UN is seeking an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on the legality of Israel’s control over the West Bank.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is holding hearings this week to consider whether Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem is legal.

The case is the result of referral to The Hague by the UN General Assembly and 52 countries are expected to give evidence on Israel’s conduct and practices in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza.

The ICJ will only be able to issue an advisory opinion. Israel does not accept that the court has jurisdiction over its control of the West Bank. It also argues advisory opinions should not be issued when the dispute is political and not legal and is therefore not sending a delegation to The Hague to present counterarguments.

The case differs from the recent ICJ ruling over South Africa’s claim that Israel is waging a genocidal war in Gaza. In that case, because Israel is a signatory to the Genocide Convention, so it was obliged to accept the court’s jurisdiction.

In the West Bank case, the effect will only be symbolic, but may contribute to mounting pressure for a Palestinian state. A similar case occurred in 2004 when the Court ruled sections of the security barrier were illegal. Israel did not remove any of the barrier as a result.

Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister Riad Maliki opened the argument on Monday, telling the court that Palestinians have endured “colonialism and apartheid” for decades. He requested that the court “declare that the Israeli occupation is illegal” and that it must end “immediately, totally and unconditionally”.

International lawyer Paul Reichler presented the legal arguments for the Palestinian case, saying that Israeli control of the territories constitutes an illegal occupation, and cited the UN Charter as well as UN Security Council resolutions 242, 478, and 2334, among others.

He described the settler movement in which some 700,000 Israelis now live in West Bank settlements and East Jerusalem neighbourhoods as “a vast colonial enterprise” in which he alleged Israel had “implanted settlers” as part of a goal of permanent annexation.

Concern about settler violence towards Palestinians in the West Bank continues.

Settlers allegedly attacked Palestinians in two towns in the West Bank on Saturday, throwing stones at children in al-Mufaqara and setting fire to a vehicle and leaving racist graffiti in Turmus Ayya.

The Palestinian news outlet Wafa reported that a group of armed settlers targeted shepherds in al-Mufaqara in the South Hebron Hills, “physically assaulting them and beating them up”.

An eyewitness report on X said two settlers threw stones at two children who were grazing sheep in al-Mufaqara, while a group of settlers — including armed men or security forces — watched the incident from a nearby hill and did not intervene.

At least 10 Palestinians were killed and dozens of homes were torched across the West Bank in settler attacks in 2023, according to the human rights group Yesh Din.


Back to the ICJ: Court to hear claims against Israel’s 56-year rule over Palestinians (Times of Israel)

Israel accused of repressing basic Palestinian freedoms in ICJ hearing on West Bank rule (Times of Israel)

Settlers said to throw stones, torch car, leave racist graffiti in West Bank attacks (Times of Israel)


LISTEN: The sleight of hand in dismissing settler violence (Israel Policy Forum)
Settler violence is real, and a real problem. Pretending otherwise requires shallow and obvious misdirection and does Israel no favours.


No comments on this article yet. Be the first to add your thoughts.

The Jewish Independent acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of Country throughout Australia. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and strive to honour their rich history of storytelling in our work and mission.

Enter site