UN committee approves draft decision referring Israeli occupation to the International Court of Justice
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UN committee approves draft decision referring Israeli occupation to the International Court of Justice

The UN Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) Friday concluded its deliberation for the 76th General Assembly, approving six draft resolutions and an additional draft decision to request an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, on the legal consequences of denying the Palestinian people the right to self-determination with regard to Israel’s actions since the 1967 Mideast war.

The General Assembly’s Committee voted with 52 abstentions. The resolution will now go to the 193-member assembly for a final vote before the end of the year, when it is virtually certain of approval.

The draft stipulates Israel’s violation of Palestinian rights to self-determination from its prolonged occupation, settlement and annexation of the Palestinian territory, occupied since 1967, 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 draft stipulates to ask the ICJ for an opinion to determine how the Israel authorities’ policy measures and practices impact the status quo of the occupation, including their legal consequences that arise for all states and the United Nations from this status.

Among other things, the resolution demands that:

Israel cease all measures that violate the human rights of the Palestinian people, including the killing and injuring of civilians, the arbitrary detention and imprisonment of civilians, the forced displacement of civilians and the transfer of its own population into the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.

Ambassador Gilad Erdan delivered a speech before the vote, wherein he accused all those who will vote for the draft resolutions of “destroying the peace process,” considering that the matter was taken to the ICJ, “an end to any attempt at the peace process,” and said that this was “a unilateral step taken by the Palestinians to evade sitting at the table” and demanded a vote against the draft resolution.

Other delegates expressed concern about requesting an advisory opinion from the Court, with France’s representative speaking on behalf of several countries, stressing that such proposals should be thoughtfully discussed and consulted on with the United Nations membership in a timely manner.

The Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine supported the approval of the draft resolution and others as a crucial message of hope to the people of Palestine. Spotlighting support among delegations for an advisory opinion from the ICJ, he nevertheless expressed regret that some states had wavered and emphasized that the broad majority remains committed to justice.

During the hearing on the resolution, the observer for the Palestine said: 

Israel’s disdain for the United Nations is one reason why multilateralism and the international system is in crisis.  The country disrespects and violates a plethora of resolutions because it believes it is above the law.  Shielded in the Security Council, and absent true measures of accountability, Israel is accustomed to getting away with its crimes.  How is turning to the International Court of Justice escalatory and violent, when doing so is actually a peaceful and legitimate choice?

After the voting, the Palestinian UN Ambassador, Riyad Mansour, shared his gratitude to member states that approved all six resolutions and cited Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s speech at the annual General Assembly in September that urged for the mobilizing of all the components of international law-based order, including international justice.