U.S. Defends Israel’s Occupation of the West Bank at Top U.N. Court

The United States on Wednesday defended Israel’s decades-long occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, arguing at the U.N.’s highest court that Israel faced “very real security needs.”

The defense came a day after the United States issued its third veto against a call for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza at the United Nations Security Council, a vote that drew an angry response from nations and aid groups that have urged a stop to the fighting to help Gaza’s civilians.

The latest show of American support for Israel was at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, where Richard C. Visek, the acting legal adviser at the U.S. State Department, urged a 15-judge panel not to call for Israel’s immediate withdrawal from occupied Palestinian territory.

He said that only the establishment of an independent Palestinian state “living safely and securely alongside” Israel could bring about lasting peace, repeating a longstanding U.S. position, but the prospect of which appears even more elusive amid the war in Gaza.

“This conflict cannot be resolved through violence or unilateral actions,” Mr. Visek said. “Negotiations are the path to a lasting peace.”

The court is hearing six days of arguments over the legality of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian-majority territories, including the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which has been the subject of years of debates and resolutions at the U.N. The hearings — involving more than 50 countries — were called long before Israel went to war against Hamas in Gaza, but have become part of a concerted global effort to stop the conflict and examine the legality of Israel’s policies toward Palestinians.

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