UN Votes to Ask International Court's Opinion on 'Legal Status of Israel Occupation'

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has for years warned Israel that if Palestinian statehood is not on the horizon, it would press charges at The Hague

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

At the request of the Palestinian Authority, the United Nations voted to ask the International Court of Justice for an opinion on the legal status of Israel's "prolonged occupation, settlement and annexation of the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967."

The United Nation’s Special Political and Decolonization Committee convened to debate whether to ask the ICJ to provide an opinion on "the legal status of the occupation [of the West Bank and Gaza]," ultimately passing with 98 votes in favor, 17 against and 52 abstentions.

Israel's Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan denounced the vote, calling on nations to ask themselves whether they support negotiations and reconciliation or not. The U.S. representative at the plenum also voted against the proposal, making it clear that the Biden administration opposes unilateral decisions.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has for years warned Israel that if Palestinian statehood is not on the horizon, it would press charges at The Hague, culminating in a fiery speech at this year's UN General Assembly when the leader threatened to bring Israel to the international court.

Abbas' threats follow last year's ruling by the International Criminal Court that it has jurisdiction to prosecute war crimes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. . The ICC didn’t rule that Israel was guilty of war crimes; it merely responded to an earlier request from prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, who asked the pretrial chamber of judges to rule on the fundamental question of the court's international jurisdiction. Unlike the ICJ, which prosecutes nation states, the ICC prosecutes individual perpetrators.

In it's 2021 ruling, the ICC noted that it is “not constitutionally competent to determine matters of statehood that would bind the international community,” explaining that its ruling on jurisdiction is “neither adjudicating a border dispute… nor prejudging the question of any future borders.”

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