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Slovenia joins ICJ motion against Israeli practices in West Bank, Gaza, E. Jerusalem

The motion for an advisory opinion on alleged breaches of international law against Israel pre-dates South Africa’s genocide allegations

Tanja Fajon, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign and European Affairs speaks during a UN Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, and the Israel-Hamas war at the United Nations headquarters in New York City, November 29, 2023. (Andrea Renault/AFP)

Slovenia has decided to formally join the proceedings in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) seeking an advisory opinion on Israeli control of, and policies in, the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, a motion that precedes South Africa’s genocide allegations heard in the court last week.

The UN General Assembly voted in December 2022 to request that the ICJ, a principal organ of the UN, issue an advisory opinion as to whether Israeli policy in the territories violated international law.

In the wake of the current conflict in Gaza, the Slovenian foreign minister announced last week that Slovenia had decided to “actively participate” in the motion for an advisory opinion due to the current conflict in Gaza and the situation in the West Bank.

Those proceedings will examine “the ongoing violation by Israel of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, from its prolonged occupation, settlement and annexation of the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967,” as well as policies in East Jerusalem, and allegedly “discriminatory legislation.”

Slovenia’s decision to participate in the motion will give it the ability to submit a written position on the issues raised by the UN General Assembly’s request.

“This is a very broad spectrum of alleged violations that have been committed in the region for decades and whose horrific consequences are still visible today,” said Slovenian Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Tanja Fajon at a press conference following the adoption of the decision by the Slovenian government on Thursday.

South Africa’s Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Ronald Lamola, center, and Palestinian assistant Minister of Multilateral Affairs Ammar Hijazi, third right, address the media outside the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024. (AP/Patrick Post)

“Slovenia has consistently called for additional sanctions against Hamas and violent Israeli settlers in the West Bank, as well as for the establishment of a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, unrestricted humanitarian access and the early start of a two-state solution peace process,” she added.

The first hearing on the case is scheduled to take place on February 19.

Several other countries have already submitted written comments on the UNGA request, including Jordan, Qatar, Belize, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Egypt. Slovenia is the first European nation to do so.

The Foreign Ministry has not responded to Slovenia’s decision.

Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan condemned the UNGA resolution when it was passed in 2022, saying that any decision on the request by “a judicial body which receives its mandate from the morally bankrupt and politicized UN is completely illegitimate,” in reference to the ICJ itself.

A direct application to the ICJ on the basis of the violations of international law the UNGA alleged Israel is committing was not possible since Israel is not a signatory to the relevant international treaties that would give the court jurisdiction, whereas Israel is a signatory to the Genocide Convention, which compelled it to participate in the hearings over South Africa’s application last week.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly at United Nations headquarters in New York City, September 19, 2023. (AP/Mary Altaffer)

Fajon added on Thursday that Slovenia will decide on whether or not to join South Africa’s application to the ICJ charging Israel with genocide against Gazans in the current war at a later date, since it is not currently possible to do so at this preliminary stage of those proceedings.

The court must first decide whether it has jurisdiction over the matter and if so whether or not to order provisional measures against Israel, as requested by South Africa.

“Slovenia will certainly follow the proceedings closely. We will decide on any intervention in this particular case when it becomes possible and on the basis of legal arguments,” said Fajon.



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