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UN seeks ICJ opinion on Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine

The resolution will cause the International Court of Justice to issue an opinion on the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory.

The United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution calling on the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to issue an opinion on the legal consequences of Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories.

The General Assembly voted 87 to 26 with 53 abstentions on the resolution, with Western nations divided but with virtually unanimous support in the Islamic world, including among Arab states that have normalized relations with Israel. Russia and China voted in favor of the resolution.

Israel, the US and 24 other members, including the UK and Germany, voted against the resolution, while France was among 53 nations to abstain.

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The Hague-based ICJ, also known as the World Court, is the main UN court dealing with disputes between states. Its rulings are binding, although the ICJ has no power to enforce them.

Palestine’s ambassador to the UN, Riyad Mansour, noted that the vote came a day after the swearing in of a new far-right Israeli government, which he said promises an expansion of illegal Jewish settlements and will accelerate “colonial and racist policies.” ” towards the Palestinians. He also praised the nations that voted in favor of the resolution and were not intimidated by the threats and pressure.

“We are confident 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 it is issued and you will stand up to this Israeli government at this time,” Mansour told the general. . Assembly.

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The United Nations General Assembly requested the ICJ to issue an advisory opinion on the legal consequences of Israel’s “occupation, settlement and annexation…including measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Holy City”. of Jerusalem, and of its adoption of the related laws. discriminatory legislation and measures”.

The UN resolution also asks the ICJ to advise on how those policies and practices “affect the legal status of the occupation” and what legal consequences arise for all countries and the UN from this status.

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The last time the ICJ intervened on the issue of Israel’s occupation was 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.

“No international body can decide that the Jewish people are ‘occupiers’ in their own homeland. Any decision by a judicial body that receives its mandate from the morally bankrupt and politicized UN is completely illegitimate,” Israel’s ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan said in a statement ahead of the vote.

During the June 1967 war, Israel occupied all of historic Palestine and expelled 300,000 Palestinians from their homes. Israel also captured the Syrian Golan Heights in the north and the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula in the south. In 1978, Egypt and Israel signed a peace treaty that led Israel to withdraw from Egyptian territory.

The occupied Palestinian territories have been under Israeli military control since 1967. This makes it the longest occupation in modern history. Segmented territories include Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem.

“We do not believe that a referral to the International Court of Justice is helpful in bringing the parties back to dialogue,” British diplomat Thomas Phipps said of the UN vote.

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“It is also the UK’s position that it is inappropriate without the consent of both parties to ask the court to give an advisory opinion in what is essentially a bilateral dispute.”

Among the Western nations backing the resolution was Portugal, whose representative acknowledged the “risk of overjudicializing international relations” but said the world court “supports the rules-based international order that we seek to preserve.”

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