The Palestinians welcomed the vote of the United Nations General Assembly calling on the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to give an opinion on the legal consequences of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.
The International Court of Justice in The Hague, also known as the World Court, is the highest court in the United Nations that hears disputes between states. Its rulings are binding, although the International Court of Justice cannot enforce them.
Friday’s vote, though, poses a challenge for new Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who took office on Thursday at the head of a far-right government that includes pro-annexation parties in the West Bank.
Israel took over the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem – areas that the Palestinians wanted to establish as a state – in the 1967 war. Peace talks broke down in 2014.
“The time has come for Israel to become a State under the law and to be held accountable for its ongoing crimes against our people,” Nabil Abu Rudeine, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said in a statement.
Israeli officials have not yet commented on the vote. It was condemned by Israel’s envoy to the UN, Gilad Erdan, even before it was held at the beginning of the Jewish Sabbath.
A senior Palestinian official, Hussein al-Sheikh, said on Twitter that the vote “reflects a victory for Palestinian diplomacy.” 87 members voted to accept the request; Israel, the US and 24 other members voted against; and 53 abstained.
Palestinians have limited rule in the West Bank, and East Jerusalem was annexed by Israel in a move not internationally recognized. His settlements in these territories are considered illegal in most countries. A view that Israel disputes, citing biblical and historical ties to the land, as well as security.
The UN General Assembly has asked the International Court of Justice for an advisory opinion on the legal consequences of Israel’s “occupation, settlement and annexation” … including measures to change the demographic composition, character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, as well as its adoption of related discriminatory legislation and measures.”
The new Israeli government has promised to fortify its settlements in the West Bank, but Netanyahu has not signaled any imminent moves to annex them.