Jerusalem24 – The United Nations General Assembly has adopted a resolution calling on the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague to give an advisory opinion on the legal consequences of Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territories since 1967.
The UNGA passed the resolution on 30 December, with 87 votes in favor, 26 against, and 53 abstentions.
Israel, the US, the UK, and Germany voted against the resolution, while France and Ukraine were among the 53 nations that abstained.
The opinions of the ICJ, which settles disputes between countries, are binding but the court has no power to enforce them.
Palestine’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Riyad Mansour, told Voice of Palestine on Monday that a meeting will be held next week with the legal department of the ICJ to discuss the materials, documents, and studies needed for an ICJ advisory opinion on the Israeli occupation.
Mansour added that the ICJ will examine the legal implications of the continued Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territory, settlement construction, annexation of land, and home demolitions.
An open session of the UN Security Council will be held at the end of January to discuss the latest developments, according to Mansour.
“Permanent occupation as of now”
The UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in Israel, “welcomes General Assembly resolution 77/400 deciding to request an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) relating to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory.”
Palestinian officials also welcomed the decision, which they called a “victory of Palestinian diplomacy”.
“The time has come for Israel to be a state subject to law, and to be held accountable for its ongoing crimes against our people,” said Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Hussein Al-Sheikh, secretary-general of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), said Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas was pressured to postpone the decision but he refused.
The vote of the #UNGA and the support of 87 countries requesting a legal advisory opinion from the #ICJ on the nature of occupation in the occupied #Palestinian territories reflects the victory of Palestinian diplomacy, led by the President, https://t.co/PrxtrT8BIN
— حسين الشيخ Hussein AlSheikh (@HusseinSheikhpl) December 31, 2022
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, who last week took office as the head of a government that has set settlement expansion as a priority, slammed the decision as “despicable”.
“The Jewish people are not occupiers in their own land nor occupiers in our eternal capital Jerusalem and no UN resolution can distort that historical truth,” Netanyahu said in a video message.
ההחלטה הבזויה של האו״ם לא תחייב את ממשלת ישראל בראשותי.
העם היהודי אינו כובש בארצו ואינו כובש בבירתנו הניצחית ירושלים. שום החלטה של האו”ם לא תעוות אמת היסטורית זאת. pic.twitter.com/kNMX2TQmkR
— Benjamin Netanyahu – בנימין נתניהו (@netanyahu) December 31, 2022
Israeli far-right MP in the governing coalition, Zvika Fogel, said on Sunday that the occupation of Palestinian territories was permanent at least “as of right now” in response to the United Nations vote on Israel’s occupation on Friday.
Fogel added that he supports “applying sovereignty on all land that legally belongs to Israel,” in an apparent reference to Israeli plans to annex the occupied West Bank.
The resolution (which passed a preliminary vote in November) refers to Palestinian lands occupied by Israel since the 1967 war: the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, 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”
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”, according to Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki.
Axios reported that Netanyahu had made a series of phone calls to world leaders before the vote urging them vote against the resolution, including Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky. When Netanyahu asked Zelensky for support in the vote, the latter requested military aid in exchange. Netanyahu did not commit to Zelensky’s request who then refused to vote against the resolution and abstained instead, according to sources quoted by Axios.
An Israeli government press release refused to confirm or deny the exchange with Zelensky.