UN Seeks to Brand Israel as Occupier

The United Nations General Assembly recently asked the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to provide a legal opinion about Israel’s “occupation” of the so-called Palestinian territories. The Hague-based ICJ, also known as the World Court, is the highest UN court that deals with disputes between states. Although its legal opinions are not formally binding, they are influential and, in this case, could be used to shape international policies that are hostile toward Israel.

UN General Assembly Resolution 77/247—Israeli Practices Affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem—asked the ICJ for an “advisory opinion” on the “legal consequences” arising from Israel’s “prolonged occupation, settlement and annexation . . . 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 UN resolution, which was passed by a vote of 87–26, with 53 abstentions, represents a significant political victory for the Palestinian Authority and its efforts to mobilize international support for Palestinian claims to Jerusalem and the West Bank. The secretary general of the PLO Executive Committee, Hussein al-Sheikh, described approval of the UN resolution as a “victory” for the Palestinian cause. Basem Naim, an official with Hamas, the terrorist group that controls Gaza, said it was “an important step” toward “confining and isolating” Israel.

French journalist Michel Gurfinkiel noted that the UN’s ultimate purpose in asking the ICJ to render an advisory opinion about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is to “consolidate an alternate pro-Palestinian legal reality where Israel will be gradually suffocated.” He warned, “One may thus reach a point where the alternate anti-Israel narrative will simply be taken for granted, and steps will be devised at international level against ‘rogue State Israel.’”

Gurfinkiel added that while UN General Assembly resolutions are merely declarative, UN Security Council resolutions “may lead to economic sanctions, judicial harassment, and military options.” A negative ICJ advisory opinion on “Israeli occupation” could be seen by some anti-Israel activists at the U.S. Department of State or the White House as “an even greater opportunity to get rid of the United States commitment to Israel’s security.”

The resolution, which the General Assembly adopted one day after Benjamin Netanyahu was sworn in for the sixth time as Israel’s prime minister, was widely viewed as the first significant test of his new government. A coalition agreement states that if the Palestinian Authority (PA) “takes steps against Israel in The Hague, the government will formulate policies and measures against the PA and against its actions.”

Israel’s new government has tried to balance delivering on its promise to respond to the Palestinian move at the UN and trying to avoid antagonizing the European Union and the Biden administration, which has boosted American ties with the Palestinian Authority. Yoni Ben Menachem, a senior analyst for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, warned that if Israel failed to respond forcefully to the PA’s challenge, the PA would interpret that as a sign of weakness and would continue to increase the pressure on Israel on the international stage.

Netanyahu said, “The Jewish people are not occupiers in their own land nor occupiers in our eternal capital Jerusalem and no UN resolution can distort that historical truth.” He vowed that Israel would not be bound by this “despicable decision.” Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, added, “Any decision from a judicial body which receives its mandate from the morally bankrupt and politicized UN is completely illegitimate.”

Hebrew University Law Professor Yuval Shany said that Netanyahu’s government ultimately would have to decide on how to approach the ICJ’s proceedings. It could either cooperate with the court in the hopes of influencing the outcome or boycott the process and risk facing a more hostile decision.

1 thought on “UN Seeks to Brand Israel as Occupier

  1. I am with Israel. They cannot occupy their own land and Jerusalem is the capitol of Israel. God gave them their land. The hateful Palestinians are definitely trying to turn other nations against Israel and unfortunately Jerusalem will become a cup of trembling for all nations who will come up against it. Fight for your rights my friends

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