UN vote on status of Israeli occupation could be basis for further steps — experts

A  general photo of the UN General Assembly. GA (Photo: Wikipedia)
(File photo: Jordan News)
AMMAN — The UN on Friday voted to ask the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for an opinion on the legal status of the Israeli occupation, settlement, and annexation of Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.اضافة اعلان

The request, made by the Palestinian Authority, passed with 98 votes in favor, 17 against, and 52 abstentions.

General Director of Al-Haq and Secretary General of the International Federation for Human Rights in Ramallah Shawan Jabarin told Jordan News that if the court opinion then passes at the General Assembly next month, “this would have legal consequences for the right of the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and the nature of the Israeli occupation”.

Jabarin compared the awaited opinion to a UN advisory opinion on the legal status of South Africa’s presence in Namibia, back in 1970, “which led to the liberation of the country”.

In 2004, the ICJ issued an advisory opinion that Israel’s building of a barrier in the occupied Palestinian territory is illegal, and said that construction must stop immediately and Israel should make reparations for any damage caused.

It had no bearing on Israel, “due to the weakness and inaction of the Palestinian official side”, he said.

“We had a mine of legal actions, but we did not use it as required; however, the awaited opinion will be very important since it discusses the illegality of occupation,” he added.

Faisal Al-Khozai, international lawyer and former Jordan representative at the International Criminal Court, told Jordan News that the vote “comes in time”, as the new Israeli extreme right-wing government raises concerns in many countries in the region.

He, however, was skeptical about Israel’s complying with any international decisions, “as usual, due to the US vetoes, which back Israel’s impunity”.

Hasan Hattab, an international lawyer, described the vote as “an important, yet belated, step”.

He told Jordan News that the court opinion, if sanctioned by the UN General Assembly, could “lead to a series of steps that may lead to actions as important as dismantling illegal settlements”.

Professor in public international law and human rights Ayman Halaseh told Jordan News that the advisory opinion “has no binding value, but has a moral value”.

He added that although the current political environment does not allow the Palestinians to pressure for serious action against Israel, “the opinion is still valuable and could be used, along with other legal opinions and evidence, in the future”.

Halaseh added that the impact of advisory opinions can be usually seen at grassroots level.

In contrast to its previous voting pattern, Ukraine voted in favor of the request.

Hassan Al-Momani, professor of international relations and regional studies, told Jordan News that it is in Ukraine’s interest to support any “UN decision, prohibiting annexation and territorial conquest”.

“Ukraine has territories that were captured by Russia. If it supports the occupation in another country, this would automatically legitimize the Russian occupation of its territories and weaken its position,” he said.

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