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Belize: “Israel should withdraw entirely from Palestinian Territory”

HighlightsBelize: “Israel should withdraw entirely from Palestinian Territory”

Photo: H.E. Assad Shoman

Nations from across the globe called for the end of the genocide against the Palestinian people; the US vetoed the UN Security Council resolution for an immediate ceasefire, AGAIN!

by Marco Lopez

BELMOPAN, Thurs. Feb. 22, 2024

Since Monday, nations from across the globe have jointly presented evidence about the legal consequences of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories to the International Court of Justice. The public hearing stems from a request from the United National General Assembly (UNGA) on December 30, 2023 – a majority of member states voted to seek the World Court’s advisory opinion on the legal consequences of the ongoing Israeli Occupation of Palestine.

The hearing will continue until next week Monday, by which time some 52 member states will have presented their evidence.

Belize’s submission

The delegation of Belize included H.E. Ambassador Assad Shoman, a roots Belizean of Palestinian descent; Professor Phillipa Webb; and Belize’s legal representative in our case against the Guatemalan claim also to be heard by the ICJ, Ben Juratowich. The submissions to the panel of judges were stirring, at times emotional, but precise.

“The Palestinian people have an inalienable right to self-determination and complete independence, which has always been systematically denied to them,” Shoman said as he commenced his presentation.

His submission outlined that the occupation of Israel breaches the Palestinian people’s right to territorial integrity, denies their existence as a people, and systematically controls their freedom and independence.

“The consequence of this breach is that Israel must immediately, unconditionally, and totally, withdraw from all of the Palestinian territories,” Shoman said.

He suggested that Israel considers itself an exception.

“No state reserves to itself the right to systemically violate the rights of people to self-determination, except Israel. No state seeks to justify the indefinite occupation of another’s territory except Israel. No state commits annexation and Apartheid with impunity except Israel. But Israel must not be allowed such impunity; it must not be allowed to continue to inflict scars for generations to come on those who survive this holocaust. Israel must be made to behave like all civilized nations and stop violating international laws and UN resolutions. Respect the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. Palestine must be free,” Shoman said.  

Next to present on behalf of Belize was King’s College Professor, Phillipa Webb. She laid out clearly that the institutionalized racism against Palestinian people promulgated by Israeli laws and policies goes “hand in hand” with the practice of Apartheid.

Webb touched on the legal consequences resulting from the breach of the Prohibition of Apartheid resolution.

Apartheid is the strongest concentration of racist concepts put into action against a people – Webb argues that Israeli law not only creates privileges for those of Jewish identity, but equally implements discriminatory laws for Palestinians. The laws, facilitating the physical fragmentation of Palestinians as a group, largely benefit the Jewish settlers and relegate Palestinians to near unlivable conditions.

According to Webb, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERN) has expressed concern at the increasing hate speech in school curriculums and textbooks used in Israel.

“The committee on the rights of the child has pointed to the extensive militarization of the educational system, which is entrenched during compulsory military service,” Webb stated. 

Webb, on behalf of Belize, submitted, “In light of the violations of self-determination and the prohibition of Apartheid, Belize requests the court to fulminate precisely what Israel and third states must do. Specific consequences facilitate accountability.”

She added, “Israel must dismantle the physical, legal, and policy regime of discrimination and oppression. Including freeing political prisoners, evacuation of Israeli settlers from Palestinian territories, permitting Palestinians to return to their country and property, and lift the siege and blockade on Gaza. These consequences, taken collectively, mean that Israel must immediately, unconditionally, and totally withdraw from the entire Palestinian territory…Israel must also make full reparations for the damage suffered as a result of its violations.”

King’s Counsel, Ben Juratowich continued the submission of Belize. As mentioned, Juratowich is also the attorney representing the country in the case against Guatemala at the ICJ. He outlined in his presentation that Guatemala, a known ally of Israel, has sided with that country. In his presentation, he touched on the issue of the Israeli occupation of Palestine territory.

This is of importance for the Belizean population, given the claim that hangs over the nation’s head from its Latin American neighbor.

He outlined that the heart of the question that needed to be addressed by the court was whether or not Israel should remain within Palestinian territory. He shared that efforts to initiate additional negotiations are being interpreted by Israel as leave to remain inside the occupied territory until this conflict is resolved.

US vetoes UN Security Council Resolution for the third time 

On Tuesday, 13 members of the UN Security Council voted in favor of the Arab countries-led resolution tabled by Algeria demanding the immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, but it was vetoed by the United States of America. This is the third time that the US has voted against putting an end to the carnage which has claimed nearly 30,000 Palestinian lives according to official sources.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US Ambassador to the UN, delivered the “no” vote which saddened the world. She said her country was vetoing the resolution over concerns it would jeopardize talks between the US, Egypt, Israel, and Qatar currently ongoing to broker a release of hostages held by Hamas.

Claims that the veto was a US effort to cover for an imminent Israeli ground invasion into the City of Rafah were rejected by Greenfield. 

Approximately 1.4 million displaced people are sheltering in that city.

Reports are that the US proposed a rival draft resolution calling for a temporary ceasefire and opposing the looming ground invasion of Rafah.  

The Algerian-drafted resolution, which was vetoed by the US, meanwhile, called for an “immediate” humanitarian ceasefire. In January, the International Court of Justice delivered an interim order which obliges Israel to take measures to prevent acts of genocide in the territory. It also demanded the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages.

ICJ public hearing continues. 

The public hearing will continue until February 26, 2024, with a number of countries scheduled to make submissions with the ICJ. The panel of 15 judges will have six months to hand down their non-binding advisory opinion – which also asks them to consider the legal status of the occupation and its consequences.

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