UN panel asks Int’l Court of Justice to urgently weigh in on Israeli ‘annexation’

ICJ to issue ‘advisory opinion’ on ‘occupation, settlement of Palestinian territory’; Israel says ‘only purpose is to demonize,’ raps panel for ignoring Jewish ties to Temple Mount

Luke Tress is a JTA reporter and a former editor and reporter in New York for The Times of Israel.

The United Nations General Assembly Fourth Committee votes on measures addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, at the United Nations in New York, November 11, 2022. (Luke Tress/Times of Israel)
The United Nations General Assembly Fourth Committee votes on measures addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, at the United Nations in New York, November 11, 2022. (Luke Tress/Times of Israel)

UNITED NATIONS — A United Nations committee on Friday approved a resolution to request the International Court of Justice “urgently” weigh in on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Israeli “annexation.”

The UN General Assembly Fourth Committee voted in favor of the measure by a margin of 98 in favor, 17 opposed and 52 abstentions.

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.”

It 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 calls on 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 resolution will now head to the General Assembly plenary for official approval, likely next month.

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.

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, highlighting the Palestinians’ rejection of previous peace offers.

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

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.

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

“Freedom of worship is a value they refuse to uphold,” Erdan said, accusing the UN of peddling in “destructive falsehoods that will only perpetuate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

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

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.”

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