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Chinese Envoy At Israel's ICJ Hearing Says Armed Resistance to Foreign Occupation Is Enshrined in International Law

'Armed struggle in this compact is distinguished from acts of terrorism'

Chinese Envoy At Israel's ICJ Hearing Says Armed Resistance to Foreign Occupation Is Enshrined in International Law

This week, 52 nations and three international bodies are taking part in proceedings before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to consider potential legal ramifications for Israel’s prolonged occupation of Palestinian territories, which is considered illegal under international law.

During his 27-minute presentation at the court in The Hague, a Chinese envoy said that justice for Palestinians “has long been delayed, but it must not be denied,” citing international laws that undercut a key defense often used by Israel and its allies.

Ma Xinmin, China’s Foreign Ministry’s legal adviser, read from UN Resolution 3070, which was adopted in 1973, affirming to the court the resolution “reaffirms the legitimacy of the peoples’ struggle for liberation from colonial and foreign domination and alien subjugation by all available means, including armed struggle.”

He further cited the 1998 Arab Convention For the Suppression of Terrorism agreement, which provides “the right of peoples to combat foreign occupation and aggression by whatever means, including armed struggle, in order to liberate their territories and secure their right to self-determination, and independence.”

Ma contended that such frameworks inherently invalidate accusations of terrorism directed at those resisting Israeli control in occupied zones and questioned Israel's entitlement to self-defense in territories it occupies unlawfully.

“Armed struggle in this compact is distinguished from acts of terrorism,” he continued. “It is grounded in international law. This distinction is acknowledged by several international conventions.”

Ma again underscored the legitimacy granted by international law and various global treaties to the armed resistance of an occupied populace by reading to the court text from the OAU Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism:

The struggle waged by peoples in accordance with the principles of international law for their liberation or self-determination, including armed struggle against colonialism, occupation, aggression and domination by foreign forces shall not be considered as terrorist acts.

These statements, poised to inflame Israeli officials and their allies, underscore a long-standing contention that Israel maintains a right to protect itself from hostilities.

“Fifty-seven years have passed since Israel began its occupation of the OPT (Occupied Palestinian Territories). The unlawful nature of the occupation and sovereignty over the occupied territories remain unchanged,” Ma told the ICJ, asserting that the Palestinians, not the Israelis, hold a more legitimate claim to self-defense.

In 2022, the UN called Israel’s occupation illegal, equating it to a “settler-colonial” situation that must end for Palestinian self-determination.

The same year, the international body explained there are “reasonable grounds to conclude that the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory is now unlawful under international law due to its permanence and the Israeli Government’s de-facto annexation policies,” as stated by UN’s International Commission of Inquiry.

“Recent statements by the Secretary-General and numerous member States have clearly indicated that any attempt at unilateral annexation of a State’s territory by another State is a violation of international law and is null and void; 143 member States including Israel last week voted in favor of a General Assembly resolution reaffirming this,” stated Navi Pillay, Chair of the Commission. “Unless universally applied, including to the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, this core principle of the United Nations Charter will become meaningless.”

The final ICJ hearing on this matter is scheduled to take place on Monday, Feb. 26.

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