UNGA to Take Israeli ‘Occupation’ of Palestine to ICJ

Acting at the request of the Palestinian Authority, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) voted 98-17 to approve a resolution to request the Hague international court to urgently weigh in on the Israel-Palestine conflict and Israeli annexation.

The UNGA Fourth Committee voted to seek an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on the illegality of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories on the grounds that it can be considered de facto annexation.

The resolution calls on the ICJ, a UN organ separate from the International Criminal Court, which is also in The Hague, to weigh in on the conflict in accordance with international law and the UN charter.

ICJ is asked for an opinion on whether, after 56 years, Israel’s hold on territories it captured from Jordan Egypt, and Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War, can be considered tantamount to de facto annexation and thus illegal under international law.

Since the Six-Day War, Israel’s sovereignty – the international community does not recognize – has been applied to east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, leaving the West Bank under IDF military and civilian rule.

The US, on the other side, only accepts Israel’s annexation of the Golan.

The resolution specifically asked the ICJ for an opinion on the status of Jerusalem, the most volatile and contentious point of discord between Israelis and Palestinians since the city is holy to Jews, Christians, and Muslims.

Noting that Israel has adopted discriminatory legislation and measures, the document also calls for a probe into Israeli measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character, and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, ignoring at the same time Jewish ties to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, its holiest site, referring to it solely by its Muslim name of al-Haram, al-Sharif.

Calling it part of a long line of anti-Israel resolutions, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan blasted the measure at the committee hearing, stressing that its only purpose is to demonize Israel and exempt the Palestinians from responsibility.

Adding that the resolution is ruling out any hope for a resolution, Erdan said it gives the perfect excuse to the Palestinians to continue their boycott of the negotiating table, highlighting their rejection of previous peace offers.

The resolution will now head for official approval to the General Assembly plenary, likely next month.

The last advisory opinion the ICJ last issued on the conflict was in 2004.

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