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Israel 'must be held accountable' for Palestinian violations, Turkey tells ICJ

Turkey's presentation came on the final day of public hearings at the International Court of Justice.
JOSH WALET/ANP/AFP via Getty Images

ANKARA — Turkish Deputy Foreign Minister Ahmet Yildiz told the International Court of Justice Monday that Israel “must be held accountable” for human rights violations in the Palestinian territories. 

“Israel must be held accountable for measures to alter the status of Jerusalem, as well as violations of human rights in occupied territories,” Yildiz said. “Turkey respectfully calls on ICJ in The Hague to declare the policies and practices of Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories illegal under international law.”

Yildiz's argument formed part of Turkey’s presentation to the ICJ, which is reviewing the legal consequences of Israeli policies and practices in the occupied Palestinian territories, including east Jerusalem. He said the Israel-Hamas war provided fresh proof that peace cannot be achieved in the region “without addressing the root cause” of the conflict. 

Condemning the Israeli attacks in Gaza as “collective punishment,” Yildiz added, “The rule-based international system has come to the brink of collapse with ongoing Israeli attacks on Gaza.”

Turkey was one of more that 50 countries to make their arguments on the issue before the ICJ. The UN General Assembly had requested the court give an advisory opinion on the matter in December 2022. The court’s advisory opinions are not legally binding. 

Separately, in January, South Africa filed a case accusing Israel of committing genocide during its war against Hamas in Gaza.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who casts himself as a leading champion of the Palestinian cause, has been a vocal critic of the Israeli government over the rising humanitarian toll in Gaza. 

Israel and Turkey had restored their diplomatic ties over a year ago, after four years of hiatus, largely stemming from disagreements on the Palestinian issue. That detente was shattered when the war broke out on Oct. 7. Israel announced late that month that it was reassessing its diplomatic ties with Turkey amid Erdogan’s harsh criticism of the Jewish state. Ankara, in response, recalled its ambassador from Israel in November.