Anti-Israel hearing at The Hague
Anti-Israel hearing at The HagueReuters

The regalia attending Israel on trial flatter to deceive. The decor is imperial, the gowns imposing and the depositions sombre like a ‘Guilty’ verdict. Nothing wrong with pomp and ceremony in a court where “legal disputes between states are settled in accordance with international law.”

Ivy League schools are as good at symbols of grandeur, and as bad in not adhering to what they represent. The unpalatable fact is that the International Court of Justice is a serial abuser of international law.

The disrespect for international law is not debatable: ICJ records are filled with the fake country of “Palestine” and fake “Occupied Palestinian Territories.” A celebrated case in point was about the ‘Wall’ that Jews built to stop regular massacres, a feature of Arafat’s intifadas. In March 2002 the Park Hotel Passover ‘Seder’ massacre in coastal Netanya, among the most grisly, galvanised Israel to erect a barrier of fences and walls, which galvanised the human rights industry to petition the ICJ. The fake territory in the fake country appears prominently in the case record:


The Court decided that all States entitled to appear before it, as well as Palestine.”

-Every time the non-existent state of “Palestine” pops up, the ICJ abuses international law.

-Every time it resorts to the hackneyed term, “Occupied Palestinian Territory” the ICJ plays games with international law.

None of it stops the court from monitoring Israel minutely like a prisoner on death row. And note the ominous warning, no “right of self-defence”. For all we know the ICJ could repeat “no right of self-defence” when it delivers judgment on the gimmicky “genocide” case.

“The construction of the wall constituted a breach by Israel of certain of its obligations under humanitarian and human rights law. The Court concluded that Israel could not rely on a right of self-defence or on a state of necessity in order to preclude the wrongfulness of the construction of the wall, and that such construction and its associated régime were accordingly contrary to international law.”

When and how did a state named “Palestine” come about? When and how did Israel come to occupy “Palestinian Territory”? To put my puzzlement to bed, Professor John Dugard once pointed me to the case record. At the time Dugard was working in a sort of policeman-prosecutor role for the UN Human Rights Commission. As the “Special Rapporteur” his job was to investigate, rebuke and report on Israel’s bad conduct in the “Occupied Palestinian Territories.” The land of nod again. It was bad enough that OPT was in his job title. Dugard’s rebukes were full of it: “The Wall being built by Israel in the name of security penetrates deep into Palestinian territory.”

So I wrote to him.

Dear Professor Dugard, would you be so kind and clarify the term Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) as it occurs in your job title at the UN Commission for Human Rights. Please would you quote law to the effect that Israel occupies Palestinian Territory.

From Professor Dugard

Dear Professor Apfel

Thank you for your letter about the Occupied Palestinian Territory.(Obviously the term occupied does not refer to Israel itself but only to the west Bank (including east Jerusalem), Gaza and the Golan.)

I suspect that much of your information (and hence misunderstanding) comes from the writings of Anne Bayefsky. I think it would be more helpful if you were to read the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice of 9 July 2004 and the judgment of the High Court of Israel in the Beit Sourik case of 30 June 2004. They will provide you with answers to most of your questions and give you a better understanding of the legal norms that govern the situation.

Incidentally I am not an employee of the UN but an independent (and unpaid!) Rapporteur.

I really hope that you will read the Opinion and Judgment as I have suggested.

Best regards
John Dugard

(Responding, I corrected his upgrading me to ‘Professor’)

Well, I picked my way through the two cases. I read “the various instruments” in the Advisory Opinion to see when and how "Palestine" was born and when and how Israel "occupied Palestinian Territory". To no avail: the ICJ case records no birth of Palestine or birth of OPT. I did though hit on something in the case record pertaining to Professor Dugard. I then wrote back:

With respect, dear Professor, both your case precedents are 2004 cases. You on the other hand began working at the Human Rights Commission in 2001. Are you admitting that the designation in your job title, ‘Occupied Palestinian Territory’ was, at the time of your appointment, fictional, that your job title had no foundation in law? Another thing, you write of ‘legal norms.’

In the Oxford Dictionary norm or normative expresses “value judgments as contrasted with stating facts.” Or if you want, “A standard of behaviour that is required, desired or designated as normal.” Dear Professor, “value judgments as contrasted with facts” seem trivial things for determining the boundaries of Israel.

I concluded:

“As much as you want Gaza and the 'West Bank' to belong to the Palestinian Arabs, international law is against it. What can be said about the “Occupied” term in your title? It is more than premature, it is presumptuous. You anticipated a future settlement between two sides, one of them being Israel. What entitled you to remove it from the equation? Come to that, what made you accept fake international law in your job title and, like an avenging angel, warn that, “Israel will be held accountable for its violations of humanitarian law and human rights law? You accuse Israel of disrespecting the law that you disrespect.”

Note: For readers wanting to know what made Professor Dugard’s job title abusive, and why “Palestine” and “Occupied Palestinian Territory” are pie in the sky designations, please consult two among several of my works on the glaring duplicity of UN agencies and Professor Dugard – who only last week acted for the South Africa-Hamas alliance in the ‘genocide’ case at the ICJ.



At the ‘trial’ for genocide on two inauspicious days in January 2024, the knaves and knives were out in the august court. Israel had a neighbouring country, “Palestine.” The neighbour’s not real, but neither is it imaginary. Call it a halfling. The ICJ conjured up the country and decided Israel must get used to it living next door.

“A victory for truth,” said a South African delegate. He meant a defeat for truth and victory for a legal fiction.

For Israel choosing to fight the genocide libel it meant skating on thin ice.

For international law it meant relegation to a fun league. F

or dreamers of a Two-State Solution it meant an interim prize.

For nine-tenths of UN members the ICJ case meant one step closer to cancelling Israel’s right to exist.

For America and Europe it meant a new arm-twisting lever to get Israel to do their bidding.

For all players it meant a whole new ballgame. The ICJ ushered "Palestine" and "Occupied Palestinian Territory" into the court, and no one on the Israel bench batted an eye.

A cause must have a catchphrase, and the hate-Israel cause boasts “Occupation” the Coca-Cola of all catchphrases. Repeat nonsense enough times and it: (a) makes perfect sense; (b) disguises a plot as a policy and (c) makes a falsehood into a fact.

That’s what a fifty-year lie can do – slip into the skin of truth with barely a sigh.

What makes OPT complete nonsense? There never was Palestinian territory for Israel to occupy. Israel snapped up the territories fair and square from Egypt and Jordan. Turn Middle East wars and laws upside down and inside out: the ‘West Bank’ and Gaza can be neither occupied nor Palestine.

So we uncovered the weak and putrid underbelly of the ICJ as it deliberates whether Israel committed genocide in Gaza. The delegation for Israel disputed the court’s jurisdiction: there existed no dispute between Israel and South Africa. Perhaps it overlooked a more cogent cause for disputing jurisdiction. There is no Palestine nor any Palestinian territory that Israel occupies.

Working on the belief that there are such places, the ICJ demonstrates a callous disregard of history and a penchant for conjuring international law from smoke and mirror tricks.

Steve Apfel is a veteran authority on anti-Zionism and a prolific author in general. His works have appeared in Gatestone. American Spectator. Jerusalem Post. Jerusalem Post, Christian Edition. Israel National News. LA Jewish Journal. American Thinker. Commentator. Israel Affairs. After “Hadrian’s Echo: The why’s and wherefores of Israel’s critics,” his latest book is, “Hitlers at Heart: anti-Zionism and its Believers” Selections of Steve’s work can be accessed at and at