It is unacceptable for the ICJ to deliver opinion on Israel, West Bank - opinion

Published date23 November 2022
Publication titleJerusalem Post, The: Web Edition Articles (Israel)
The motion was supported by 98 countries and opposed by 17, while 52 abstained. Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki, jumping the gun, declared: "This decision opens a new era in which Israel will be called to account."

In fact, the next step is for the committee's resolution to be debated by the UN General Assembly, and only if the voting figures remain similar and the motion is passed will it move to the ICJ in The Hague. The court could then take months, possibly years, to draft an advisory opinion.

It is pertinent to question the value and indeed the objectivity of opinions provided by the ICJ. Israel has historically faced an in-built majority against it within the organs of the UN. Critics of the ICJ have always maintained that its jurists favor the interests of the states that nominate them. The current membership includes jurists from Lebanon, Somalia, Uganda, Brazil and Russia.

They have tried in the past

In March 2020 the ICJ submitted observations in support of the International Criminal Court's jurisdiction over Palestine which, the ICJ determined, comprises the West Bank, including eastern Jerusalem and Gaza. It further opined that "Palestine is a State under international law... The decades-long belligerent occupation of Palestine... has no decisive legal effect on the validity of its claim to sovereignty and statehood." However Drake University, in its paper "The Legal Status of Palestine," concludes that "Palestine is an autonomous entity, not a state... Palestine cannot legally be considered a state under international law."

In 2004, the UN General Assembly requested an opinion from the court about Israel's security barrier in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem. The ICJ determined that the barrier was illegal. One international law journal declared: "the context overtook the law in the production of the opinion and has thereby distorted the result. As a consequence, the ICJ has done significant damage to its credibility and to the aspects of international law traversed in the opinion."

There is, in short, a certain lack of confidence in the impartiality of determinations by the ICJ. If the ICJ is indeed going to be asked to give a judicial opinion on a matter as fundamental as the legal status of the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem, it would not be unreasonable for Israel to request the right to argue its case before the court and for its arguments be given full weight in any advisory opinion.

It is not satisfactory for Israel's...

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