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Israel’s policies, practices amount to apartheid, says Pakistan at World Court

Law Minister Ahmed Irfan Aslam presents Pakistan’s stance on Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories at ICJ
Law Minister Ahmed Irfan Aslam delivers a speech at the World Court on February 23, 2024. Screengrab via PTV News
Law Minister Ahmed Irfan Aslam delivers a speech at the World Court on February 23, 2024. Screengrab via PTV News

Israel’s policies and practices amount to systematic racial discrimination and apartheid, caretaker Law Minister Ahmed Irfan Aslam said while presenting Pakistan’s stance on Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories at the World Court on Friday.

“Pakistan has always been a defender of the Palestinian people and their right to self-determination,” he said at the outset of his speech.

“It was Pakistan that proposed the General Assembly’s first resolution on the first day of the sixth day war relating to Israel’s invasion of Jerusalem and the measures taken by Israel to change the status of the city.”

The UN’s top court, also known as the World Court, this week is hearing arguments from more than 50 states following a request by the UN General Assembly in 2022 to issue a non-binding opinion on the legal consequences of the Israeli occupation.

The hearings are part of a Palestinian push to get international legal institutions to examine Israel’s conduct, which has become more urgent since the Oct 7 attacks by Hamas in Israel, which killed 1,200 people, and Israel’s military response that has since killed about 29,000 Palestinians.

Israel, which is not taking part in the hearings, said in written comments that the court’s involvement could be harmful to achieving a negotiated settlement.

On Monday, Palestinian representatives asked the judges to declare Israel’s occupation of their territory illegal and said its opinion could help reach a two-state solution.

The judges are expected to take roughly six months to issue an opinion on the request, according to Reuters.

At least 29,514 Palestinians have been killed and 69,616 injured in Israeli strikes on Gaza since Oct 7, the Gaza health ministry has said in a statement, Reuters reports.

More than 100 people have died in the past 24 hours, the ministry added.

Pakistan does not have diplomatic ties with Tel Aviv, and believes in a “two-state solution in accordance with the relevant United Nations and OIC resolutions as well as international law, with pre-1967 borders and Al-Quds Al-Sharif (Jerusalem) as the capital of Palestine”.

“Since then, Pakistan has continued to engage in the important question of internal justice and it remains committed to playing its part,” Aslam added.

The interim law minister quoted the United Nations in his speech while speaking about the settlement of refugees, saying that it was a “flagrant violation” under international law.

He further mentioned the rulings in the Namibia case.

He said that Israel has imposed a system of racial discrimination against the Palestinian people since 1967, adding that “it is a system that deliberately and systematically, along ethnic and religious lines between the Palestinian population and Jewish Israeli settlers illegally transferred into the territory.”

Aslam said: “The holy city of Jerusalem is unique in that it is sacred to all three Abrahamic religions. Under the historic status quo, it is the right of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish communities freely to access and worship their places of worship in the city.”

He lamented that the historic status quo is developed into so-called “objective regime” which captures the point that it is characterised by permanence which the instruments that established it do not themselves necessarily enjoy.

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Aslam demanded that rights under the historic status quo should immediately be restored, saying that this issue was of “great importance to Pakistan”.

“Pakistan strongly believes in the inherent right of people to live freely and in the justice of struggle of freedom from alien subjugation.”

Pakistan believes that the two-state solution must be the basis for peace, the law minister said.

While quoting the ICJ ruling in the wall case, he said that a two-state solution was to be encouraged with a view to achieving as soon as possible based on international law in the negotiated law to the outstanding problems and establishment of a Palestinian state existing side by side with Israel and its other neighbours with peace and security for all in the region.“

“Pakistan hopes to assist the court by suggesting a slightly different way of looking at things which leads to the conclusion that Israel’s occupation is unlawful and unlawfulness must have consequences,” the law minister said and added that the country considers that the useful touchstone for the court is the general principle that no state can benefit from its wrong.

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