The League of Arab States on Monday called Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories an “affront to international justice”, saying failure to end it amounted to “genocide”.

The International Court of Justice entered its last day of week-long hearings after a request from the United Nations, with an unprecedented 52 countries giving their views on Israel’s occupation.

“This prolonged occupation is an affront to international justice,” the 22 Arab-country bloc’s representative told judges in The Hague.

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“The failure to bring it to an end has led to the current horrors perpetrated against the Palestinian people, amounting to genocide,” Abdel Hakim El-Rifai said, reading a written statement.

Most speakers during the hearings have demanded that Israel end its occupation, which came after a six-day Arab-Israeli war in 1967.

But last week the United States said Israel should not be legally obliged to withdraw without taking its “very real security needs” into account.

Speakers on Monday warned a prolonged occupation posed an “extreme danger” to stability in the Middle East and beyond.

“If left unchecked, it runs the risk of not only threatening regional, but also global peace and security,” Turkey’s representative Ahmet Yildiz said.

Zambia’s representative however told judges that both sides had a duty to negotiate a peaceful settlement.

“Both Israel and Palestine have a duty to respect international human rights law and international humanitarian law,” Marshal Mubambe Muchende said.

He said any settlement of the conflict should not be “one that puts the blame squarely on one party, but rather one that advances a negotiated solution which culminates in a two-state solution”.

‘Prejudicial’

The UN has asked the ICJ to hand down an “advisory opinion” on the “legal consequences arising from the policies and practices of Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem”.

The court will probably deliver its opinion before the end of the year but it is not binding on anyone.

Israel is not taking part in the oral hearings. It submitted a written contribution, in which it described the questions the court had been asked as “prejudicial” and “tendentious”.

The hearings began a week ago with three hours of testimony from Palestinian officials, who accused the Israeli occupiers of running a system of “colonialism and apartheid”.

The case before the court is separate from one brought by South Africa against Israel for alleged genocide during its current offensive in Gaza.

In that case, the ICJ ruled that Israel should do everything in its power to prevent genocidal acts in Gaza and allow in humanitarian aid.

Israeli’s retaliatory military offensive in Gaza has so far killed at least 29,782 people, most of them women and children, according to the territory’s Hamas-run health ministry.

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© Agence France-Presse