Lapid, Gantz slam UN panel’s call on ICJ to probe Israeli ‘occupation, annexation’

PM labels resolution a ‘prize for terrorist organizations,’ defense minister says request ‘disconnected from reality’; move awaits approval by General Assembly, likely next month

Prime Minister Yair Lapid speaks in the plenum hall of the Knesset, in Jerusalem on November 6, 2022. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)
Prime Minister Yair Lapid speaks in the plenum hall of the Knesset, in Jerusalem on November 6, 2022. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Outgoing Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Saturday panned a United Nations resolution requesting that the International Court of Justice weigh in on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Israeli “occupation, settlement and annexation.”

The UN General Assembly Fourth Committee voted in favor of the move on Friday by a margin of 98 in favor, 17 opposed and 52 abstentions. It will head to the General Assembly plenary for official approval, likely next month.

The resolution, titled “Israeli practices and settlement activities affecting the rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the occupied territories,” was one of several focused on the conflict during the session.

It requests that The Hague-based ICJ “render urgently an advisory opinion” on Israel’s “prolonged occupation, settlement and annexation of Palestinian territory.”

In a statement Saturday, Lapid said Israel “strongly rejects the Palestinian resolution… This is another unilateral Palestinian move that undermines the basic principles for resolving the conflict and may harm any possibility for a future process.

“The Palestinians want to replace negotiations with unilateral steps. They are again using the United Nations to attack Israel,” he charged.

He said the move “will not change the reality on the ground, nor will it help the Palestinian people in any way. It may even result in an escalation. Supporting this move is a prize for terrorist organizations and the campaign against Israel.

The premier extended his gratitude to the countries who voted against the resolution and those that abstained.

The premier called upon “all the countries that supported yesterday’s proposal to reconsider their position and oppose it when it’s voted upon in the General Assembly.”

Outgoing Defense Minister Benny Gantz labeled the request as “disconnected from reality,” and echoed Lapid’s sentiment that it would harm the prospects of future negotiations to end the conflict.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz speaks during a special plenum session to mark 27 years since the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, at the Knesset, November 6, 2022. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

“The Palestinians taking steps at the court in The Hague is an own-goal that will distance them from any political achievement,” Gantz tweeted.

“The UN’s intention to allow this will only harm stability in the region and the ability to reach understandings in the future,” he added.

The UN General Assembly Fourth Committee votes on measures addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at UN headquarters in New York on Friday, November 11, 2022. (AP/Jeenah Moon)

The UN resolution also calls for an investigation into Israeli measures “aimed at altering the demographic composition, character, and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem” and says Israel has adopted “discriminatory legislation and measures.”

The resolution asks the court to weigh in on the conflict in accordance with international law and the UN charter. The court, a UN organ, is separate from the International Criminal Court, which is also in The Hague.

The ICJ last issued an advisory opinion on the conflict in 2004.

The countries voting against the resolution included Israel, Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Italy, Germany, several Pacific island nations and the United States.

Many European countries abstained.

Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine and the United Arab Emirates all voted in favor.

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan blasted the measure at the committee hearing, calling it part of a “long line of anti-Israel resolutions.”

“The only purpose is to demonize Israel and exempt the Palestinians from responsibility,” Erdan said, adding that the resolution was “destroying any hope for a resolution.”

The resolution gives the Palestinians “the perfect excuse to continue boycotting the negotiating table,” Erdan said.

He also attacked the resolution for referring to Jerusalem’s Temple Mount only by its Arabic name, Haram al-Sharif.

UN representatives vote on a resolution calling for an International Court of Justice opinion on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on November 11, 2022. (Screenshot, used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

The Temple Mount is the holiest place for Jews as the site of the ancient temples, and the third holiest site in Islam as the location of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The resolution also refers to the Temple Mount as part of “Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.”

The Palestinian delegation to the UN said in response to the resolution, “Our people deserve freedom. Our people are entitled to freedom.”

Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki praised the resolution in a statement, labeling it a “diplomatic and legal breakthrough,” and hoping it would “open a new era for holding Israel accountable for its war crimes.”

The United States representative to the committee, Richard Mills, expressed “serious concerns” about the resolution, saying it would “magnify distrust” surrounding the conflict.

“There are no shortcuts to a two-state solution,” he said, adding that the Temple Mount phrasing was “intended to denigrate Israel.”

Most Popular
read more: