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UN votes to request ICJ advisory opinion on Israeli occupation

Jerusalem24 – The Fourth Committee of the UN General Assembly has adopted a draft Palestinian resolution to request an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on the nature of the existence of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands since 1967.

In an unprecedented move, 98 countries voted in favor of the resolution, 52 countries abstained, and 17 countries voted against it, including Israel, the United States, Canada, Germany, and Australia.

The resolution, which was welcomed by Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Malki, will go to the 193-member General Assembly for a final vote before the end of the year.

The opinions of the ICJ, which settles disputes between countries, are not binding.

“The resolution deals with the legal consequences resulting from Israel’s continued violation of the right of self-determination of the Palestinian people through its colonial regime of apartheid and racial segregation,” said Al-Malki.

The resolution refers to Palestinian lands occupied by Israel since the 1967 war: the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem.

It also refers to policies aimed at “altering the demographic composition, character, and status of the holy city of Jerusalem”. The resolution asks the court for an opinion on how these Israeli policies and practices “affect the legal status of the occupation, and what are the legal consequences that arise for all states and the United Nations from this status”.

Representative of Palestine in the United Nations, Feda Abdelhady, addressed the UN after Israeli ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan, who described the resolution as “a stab in the heart of hope for progress” and said that countries that vote in favor are voting to “eviscerate Israel” prior to the final vote on 10 November.

“How does a referral to ICJ threaten Israel and is problematic?” Abdelhady asked.

“Hysterical” reaction

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said in a statement on 12 November that he has taken steps to prevent the draft Palestinian resolution and will continue such efforts in any future position he may serve in.

“The Palestinian initiative against Israel at the ICJ constitutes an ‘own goal’ which will only distance them [the Palestinians] from any political achievements,” said Gantz. “The UN’s intention to enable such measures will harm regional stability, as well as any prospects for a future arrangement. This is a political move, which is not connected to realities on the ground.”

The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates described the Israeli political reaction as “hysterical”.

“[The reaction was] preceded by intense Israeli efforts and contacts with a number of countries in an attempt to discourage the Palestinian leadership from moving forward, or sabotaging this resolution, and to prevent its passage in the Fourth Committee of the United Nations General Assembly.”

In 2004, the ICJ judged that the wall Israel has been building, mainly inside the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, was “contrary to international law”.

Nadeen Alshaer

Alshaer is a Palestinian journalist, a Birzeit University graduate with a B.A. in TV and Radio Broadcasting Journalism. Alshaer has 5+ years of experience in journalism. She currently works as a reporter, editor and presenter/producer for PBC-Palestine TV and Jerusalem24 radio. She’s a UN and Kelley School of Business alumna.

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