France condemns Israel’s announcement of illegal settlements in Gaza

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At the ICJ, which operates at the Peace Palace in The Hague, the administrative capital of the Netherlands, hearings continue on the legal consequences of Israel’s practices in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Speaking on behalf of France, Diégo Colas, Director of Legal Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, emphasized his country’s support for a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders and called for a decisive and credible resumption of the peace process.

“Preventing attacks against civilians and aid workers is both a moral imperative and an international obligation,” Colas reminded Israel, adding that “Israel must at all times and in all situations comply with international humanitarian law, which clearly sets out the principles of discrimination, necessity, proportionality and precaution.”

Stating that France strongly opposes Israel’s opening of the occupied territories to illegal settlers, Colas said: “France is of the view that any action contrary to the need to preserve the unity, continuity and integrity of the entire Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem, is a violation of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.”

“The expansion of settlements and the violations resulting from them undermine the establishment of a viable Palestinian state,” Colas said, reminding that his country has decided to sanction illegal Jewish settlers who resort to violence and said that they are working for the EU to take the same step.

Colas emphasized that there is no provision in international law that can legitimize the annexation of territory by the occupying power and said: “In this context, the fact that the occupation is particularly prolonged can in no case legitimize annexation claims. On the contrary, one of the fundamental principles of international law is the prohibition of such annexation.”

Pointing out that international law also explicitly prohibits the implementation of measures by the occupying power to change the demographic structure of the territory in question, Colas said, “In this context, France condemns statements encouraging the establishment of settlements in Gaza and the transfer of the Palestinian population of Gaza outside this territory” and asked the International Court of Justice to take all measures in its power to prevent and punish such statements by Israel.

“Changing the demographic composition of the Gaza Strip, as happened in the West Bank, would constitute a serious violation of both customary and customary international law,” Colas warned.

Emphasizing that Israel’s unilateral declaration of Jerusalem as its capital is also against international law, Colas said, “France does not recognize the illegal annexation of territory.”

Colas noted that Israel’s expropriation of Palestinian land in East Jerusalem, as well as the status accorded to Palestinians in East Jerusalem, violates the obligation of the occupying power to take such protective measures.

“France considers it essential that the historic status quo in Jerusalem and its holy sites be preserved unchanged,” Colas said, adding that Israel must end its violations and compensate those harmed by them.

The UN General Assembly had asked the ICJ for an opinion

In its resolution of December 30, 2022, the UN General Assembly posed two questions to the ICJ under Article 65 of the Statute of the Court on the legal consequences of Israel’s occupation of Palestine since the 1967 war.

The questions that the UN General Assembly has asked the Court to answer are as follows:

“1- What are the legal consequences of Israel’s continuous violation of the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination, its continued occupation, its settlement and annexation activities in the Palestinian territories since 1967, its activities aimed at changing the demographic structure, character and status of Jerusalem, and its adoption of relevant discriminatory legislation and measures?

2- How do Israel’s practices mentioned in the first question affect the legal status of the occupation and what are the legal consequences of this situation for all states and the United Nations?”

The request for an advisory opinion was transmitted to the ICJ by the UN Secretary-General on January 17, 2023, and the Court notified UN Member States and Palestine of their right to submit written and oral submissions on the questions on which an advisory opinion was sought.

What is the impact of the advisory opinion?

Although advisory opinions issued by the ICJ are not binding, they are taken into account and acted upon by many states and organizations.

It is noteworthy that after the Court’s 2004 advisory opinion on Israel’s construction of the wall in the Palestinian territories, many states and companies refrained from contributing to the construction of the wall and stipulated that the construction materials they sold to Israel should not be used in the construction of the wall.

Again, following the ICJ’s advisory opinion on July 22, 2010 that international law does not prohibit a state from unilaterally declaring independence, the legitimacy of Kosovo’s independence increased and the number of states recognizing its independence increased.

If the ICJ’s opinion is that the occupation is contrary to international law, pressure on Israel is likely to increase and countries that openly support it will be forced by the international community to reconsider their positions.


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