Jerusalem24 – Yara Alnazer – Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid has send a letter to over 50 heads of state urging them to vote against a UN resolution requesting the International Court of Justice (ICJ) render an advisory opinion on Israeli violations against the Palestinian people and their sovereignty.
The UN General Assembly voted on 10 November to adopt the draft resolution, with 98 countries voting in favor, 52 countries abstaining, and 17 countries voting against, including Israel, Australia, Canada, Germany, and the United States. The resolution will now come to final vote at the UNGA’s plenary assembly in December.
The letter, dated 29 November, calls the resolution “an effort to single out Israel […] and delegitimize our very existence” and urged his allies to vote against the resolution in the upcoming session in December.
Right to self-determination in light of continued occupation
The UNGA will be voting on exercising its right to request the ICJ to render an advisory opinion on the situation in Palestine, specifically the right of Palestinians to self-determination in light of Israel’s prolonged occupation, settlement expansion and annexation of Palestinian territories.
The draft resolution also expresses the concerns of UNGA member states on “the grave humanitarian situation in Gaza, Jerusalem and Hebron”.
Finally, the draft resolution refers to a previous ICJ opinion rendered in 2004 concerning the construction of the separation wall, demanding Israel comply with the opinion which found the wall to be illegal under international law.
The 2004 opinion called upon Israel to cease construction of the separation wall and pay reparations for all damages.
As of 2012, around 440 kilometers of the planned construction of the separation wall were completed. An additional 100 kilometers of concrete wall were approved this November to be constructed in lieu of the current barbed wire fence in the northern the occupied West Bank.
In an effort to obviate the draft resolution, Lapid also claimed that the draft undermines the negotiation process between the Palestinian Authority and the State of Israel, and “contravenes the principles of direct negotiations”.
The Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority have not gone to the negotiation table since 2013, when the initiative failed on its second day.
In his letter, Lapid affirms the draft resolution is “harmful” and “contradicts the achievements promoting peace” in the Middle East region, referring to the 2020 Abraham Accords which normalized relations between Israel and Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. Both Bahrain and the UAE voted in favor of the draft resolution, which was submitted by – amongst others – the State of Palestine, Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.
ICJ advisory opinions are not legally binding, and Israel has rejected its jurisdiction in the past.
“However, an opinion by the ICJ constitutes an authoritative interpretation of international law, and states wishing to abide by that law cannot disregard the content of such an opinion for the sole reason that it is not binding,” according to Prof. Yaël Ronen, professor of law at the Academic Center for Science and Law in Hod Hasharon, who spoke to Haaretz.
Israel has also rejected the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Contrary to the advisory proceedings of the ICJ, however, the ICC “may exercise its jurisdiction and hold a trial against those who committed war crimes in a territory of a State Party”.
In February 2021, the ICC determined it had jurisdiction over the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, and began investigating potential Israeli war crimes against Palestinians.