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Canada nixes oral argument at world court over Israel's occupation of West Bank, Gaza

OTTAWA — Canada nixed plans Tuesday to make oral arguments at the International Court of Justice about Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories.

The world court is hearing arguments this week in response to the UN General Assembly's request for a non-binding opinion on the potential legal consequences of Israel's policies and practices in the region.

With the case playing out against the backdrop of the Israel-Hamas war, Canada has opted to fall back on the position it has held since July of last year: that such an opinion would do more harm than good.

A spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada said that an oral submission was unnecessary because the government's position, while still relevant, has not changed.

In a written submission from last summer, Canada said it should fall to the UN Security Council, not the General Assembly, to help broker a negotiated peace.

Direct dialogue between the parties themselves is the best path to create the conditions for a lasting peace, with the ultimate goal of a two-state solution, it argued.

"Canada is concerned that the issuance of an advisory opinion on Israeli practices in the occupied territories may contribute to a polarization of positions that risks moving the parties further away from a just and lasting resolution to the conflict," read the July 14 letter.

The court was first asked in December 2022 to provide an advisory opinion, which would be separate from the genocide case brought by South Africa against Israel.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 20, 2024.

— With files from The Associated Press

The Canadian Press