In the resolution, the International Court of Justice will rule on the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory.
The United Nations General Assembly has adopted a resolution calling on the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to rule on the legal implications of Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territories.
The General Assembly voted 87 to 26 with 53 abstentions on the resolution, with Western countries divided but with near-unanimous support in the Islamic world — including among Arab states that have normalized relations with Israel. Russia and China voted in favor of the resolution.
Israel, the US and 24 other members — including the UK and Germany — voted against the resolution, while France was one of 53 countries to abstain.
The Hague-based ICJ, also known as the World Court, is the highest UN court dealing with disputes between states. The rulings are binding, although the ICJ has no power to enforce them.
Palestinian UN ambassador Riyad Mansour noted that the vote came a day after the swearing-in of a new far-right Israeli government, which he said will see an expansion of illegal Jewish settlements and will accelerate “colonial and racist policies” towards Palestinians. He also praised the countries that voted in favor of the resolution and were not deterred by threats and pressure.
“We trust that regardless of your vote today, if you believe in international law and peace, you will defend the opinion of the International Court of Justice when it is expressed and that you will oppose this Israeli government now,” Mansour told the general. Edit.
The UN General Assembly asked the International Court of Justice to issue an advisory opinion on the legal consequences of Israel’s “occupation, settlement and annexation … including measures aimed at changing the demographic composition, character and status of the holy city of Jerusalem, and of the adoption of related discriminatory legislation and measures”.
The UN resolution also asks the International Court of Justice to advise on how those policies and practices “affect the legal status of the occupation” and what legal consequences this status entails for all countries and the UN.
The ICJ last weighed in on the issue of Israeli occupation in 2004, when it ruled that the Israeli wall in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem was illegal. Israel rejected that ruling, accusing the court of being politically motivated.
The majority of countries supported Palestine, although it will be a few years before a non-binding opinion is issued. In 2004, the court ruled that Israel’s wall in the West Bank and East Jerusalem violated international law. pic.twitter.com/5as9blIMZw
— Kristen Saloomey (@KSaloomey) December 30, 2022
“No international body can decide that the Jewish people are ‘occupiers’ in their own homeland. Any decision by a judicial body mandated by the morally bankrupt and politicized UN is completely illegal,” Israel’s UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan said in a statement ahead of the vote.
During the June 1967 WarIsrael occupied all of historic Palestine and drove 300,000 Palestinians from their homes. Israel also captured the Syrian Golan Heights to the north and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula to the south. In 1978, Egypt and Israel signed a peace treaty that led to Israel’s withdrawal from Egyptian territory.
The occupied Palestinian territories have been under Israeli military control since 1967. This makes it the longest occupation in modern history. The segmented areas include Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
“We do not feel that a reference to the International Court of Justice is helpful in bringing the parties back to dialogue,” British diplomat Thomas Phipps said of the UN vote.
“It is also the UK’s position that it is inappropriate to ask the court for advice in what is essentially a bilateral dispute without the consent of both parties.”
Among Western countries supporting the resolution was Portugal, whose representative acknowledged the “risk of over-judicializing international relations” but said the world court “supports the international rules-based order we are trying to preserve”.