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US, Israel Vote No as UN Approves World Court Resolution on Illegal Occupation

"The time has come for Israel to be a state subject to law," said a spokesperson for the Palestinian Authority, "and to be held accountable for its ongoing crimes against our people."
Palestinians lift flags and flash victory signs during a rally marking the 58th anniversary of the Fatah movement foundation, in Gaza City, on December 31, 2022.

By Jon Queally / Common Dreams

The General Assembly of the United Nations on Friday approved a resolution that asks the International Court of Justice to issue an opinion on the legal consequences of Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories.

The resolution passed with a final vote of 87 in favor, 26 opposed, and 53 nations abstaining. Among those opposed to the measure were the United States, Israel, the United Kingdom, and Germany.

Specifically, the resolution asks the ICJ to provide the United Nations with an advisory opinion on the legal consequences of Israel’s ongoing “occupation, settlement and annexation” of the Occupied Territories, “including measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, and from its adoption of related discriminatory legislation and measures.”

The official request to the ICJ also asks the body, known broadly as the World Court, how specific Israeli policies and practices “affect the legal status of the occupation” and to characterize any legal consequences for all the United Nations and its member states that stem from this status.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesperson for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, said Saturday that the vote signals that “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.”

Ahead of the vote, Palestinian U.N. envoy Riyad Mansour said in an address to General Assembly members: “We trust that, regardless of your vote today, if you believe in international law and peace, you will uphold the opinion of the International Court of Justice when delivered and you will stand up to this Israeli government right now.”


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As Al-Jazeera noted, “The ICJ last weighed in on the issue of Israel’s occupation in 2004, when it ruled that Israel’s wall in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem was illegal. Israel rejected that ruling, accusing the court of being politically motivated.”

The Israeli government made its displeasure with the resolution known prior to the vote, with its U.N. Ambassador Gilad Erdan saying “[a]ny decision from a judicial body which receives its mandate from the morally bankrupt and politicized U.N. is completely illegitimate.”

While the ICJ’s rulings have binding status, there is no legal mechanism to enforce its decisions and continued U.S. support for Israeli occupation means there is little hope for any consequences regardless of what the World Court puts forth.

Mansour noted that Friday’s vote arrived just days following the swearing-in of the new far-right Israeli government, once again headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but now backed by a coalition even more hostile to Palestinian rights than previous iterations. 

Mansour warned that Netanyahu will now oversee an acceleration of the “colonial and racist policies” that have marked the Likud governments of the past.


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Jon Queally

Jon Queally is managing editor of Common Dreams.

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