Israel has filed a written submission to the International Court of Justice against its plan to issue an advisory opinion on the legality of its “occupation” of Palestinian territory located over the pre-1967 lines, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
The submission of a statement is not indicative of whether it intends to participate further in the ICJ proceedings, including oral arguments the ICJ is likely to hold in early 2024.
“We will continue to fight the Palestinian lies and attempts to delegitimize Israel,” Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said.
Israel has in the past boycotted UN bodies that it believed were anti-Israel or has refused to participate in measures that it holds to be anti-Israel or illegitimate.
Israel's boycotts of the International Court of Justice
Israel boycotted the ICJ proceeding in 2004 when the court issued an advisory opinion that Israel’s construction of a security barrier on territory over the pre-1967 lines in the West Bank and Jerusalem was illegal.
In 2004, however, Israel similarly sent a written submission to the ICJ at this point in the proceedings and was one of 48 states to do so. It withdrew from the proceedings after the submission process.
The ICJ is once again preparing to render an advisory opinion on Israeli actions at the request of the UN General Assembly.
Last December, the UNGA voted to seek an advisory opinion on the “legal consequences” of Israel’s “prolonged occupation, settlement, and annexation of the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967.”
The UNGA asked the ICJ to consider how Israeli policies and practices “affect the legal consequences of the occupation” and what the consequences are for the UN and its member states as a result of that status.
UN member states, as well as affiliated groups and nongovernmental organizations, had until July 25 to submit legal arguments on the matter. They then have until October 25 to file responses to the submissions.
The ICJ hopes to hold oral hearings early next year on the issues. The submissions will not be public until then but the ICJ could release next week the list of who sent them statements.
But an Israeli source told the Post that Israel was among those who sent in submissions, so it could clarify its position that the UNGA decision “was a mistake.”
Countries that both oppose and support the ICJ’s legal intervention submitted statements.
Cohen expressed his gratitude to those nations who stood with Israel and argued against an advisory opinion.
“I thank our friends in the world who submitted their position to the court and... the member states of the United Nations who from the beginning did not lend a hand and did not support the Palestinian initiative that seeks to exploit the International Court of Justice in The Hague (ICJ) so it can promote a unilateral agenda against Israel,” Cohen said.
The Palestinian Authority and Jordan have also submitted statements to the ICJ, as has the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.
PA envoy to the UN in New York Riyad Mansour told the Security Council that some 50 nations had sent statements to the court and thanked those who had spoken out on behalf of the Palestinians.
Israel in December rejected the UNGA decision to seek an ICJ advisory opinion, which was approved by only 87 of the UN’s 193 member states. It passed, however, because only 26 nations opposed it. The others abstained or were absent.
Israel’s government has long argued that its military hold on the West Bank can not be considered an occupation, both because the territory historically belonged to ancient Israel and because it captured the territory from Jordan, which had no legal claim to it.
The ICJ advisory opinion, like the one in 2004, is non-binding but the legal opinion rendered can be used by other global bodies such as the International Criminal Court, which is weighing whether or not to allow war crimes suits to be filed against Israelis.