Deconstruction Zone: UN Courts further shame
Nov 28, 2022 | Justin Amler
On November 12, a United Nations Committee, called the Special Political and Decolonisation Committee, approved a resolution to request the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague to “urgently” weigh in on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – and render an opinion on Israel’s “prolonged occupation, settlement and annexation of Palestinian territory.”
The resolution, requested by the Palestinians, passed easily with 98 in favour, 17 against and 52 abstentions. It will move to the full General Assembly in the next couple of weeks.
This was just another farcical chapter in the UN’s inglorious history when it comes to Israel. It was spurred on by another absurd UN instrument of bias and destructiveness called the “Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory”.
This Commission, created by the obsessively anti-Israel UN Human Rights Council last year, is more akin to the Spanish Inquisition than a genuine fact-finding body. It is chaired by three individuals with ferociously anti-Israel histories who, in a surprise to absolutely no one, find Israel guilty of pretty much anything they can think of. Its latest report argues that Israel’s presence in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza is no longer an “occupation” but an “annexation” and therefore illegal under international law.
The resolution itself mostly repeats numerous clauses that have already been debated and brought to votes at the UN many times, but what is new is the clause calling for the UN to approach the International Court of Justice for an opinion. This idea is the latest attempt by the Palestinians to bypass any negotiations and instead obtain their goals through international pressure on Israel via UN bodies.
Essentially, the Palestinian position is that Israel should simply withdraw to the 1949 Armistice lines without any reciprocal action or commitments on their part at all. Their hope and expectation is that the world, via the UN, will force Israel to do this – while ignoring 74 years of history, including what actually happened in the lead-up to the 1967 war, the ongoing terrorism against Israel, the other security threats to it, and the various peace treaties signed over the years, including both the 1993 Oslo Accords and the recent Abraham Accords (2020), and the repeated Israeli two-state peace offers.
They have this hope because the UN’s obsession with the Jewish State knows no limits. There is no other country that is scrutinised and demonised the way Israel is. Entire committees with vast resources are set up to examine purported “human rights violations” by democratic Israel while simultaneously ignoring the crimes of the world’s bloodthirsty dictatorships – regimes that often dominate those same committees.
A resolution like this says more about the countries supporting it than the country it is targeted against.
To paraphrase William Shakespeare, this resolution is a tale told by idiots, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
The International Court of Justice can merely offer advisory opinions in response to requests like this one, but such rulings have no binding legal force. Furthermore, the ICJ is effectively more a political body than a judicial one. Its 15 judges are elected by the UN General Assembly, but often picked, as many UN bodies are, through diplomatic deals, rather than to maximise legal expertise and knowledge. Many ICJ judges are thus essentially there to uphold the political interests of their home governments.
After Australia’s disappointing decision to withdraw its recognition of west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last month, it was encouraging to see a strong, common sense position from Canberra on this resolution. Australia voted against it, saying ICJ advisory opinions should not be used to settle bilateral disputes. Our diplomats also correctly noted that this resolution would not help to bring the parties together for negotiations.
This zeros in upon the main reason why a resolution such as this one is so destructive. It does nothing to encourage the Palestinians to negotiate and does everything to incentivise them not to.
Despite a request from President Herzog to PA President Mahmoud Abbas to retract the resolution, Abbas predictably refused, because the Palestinians do not want to negotiate. Doing so would require compromise. They want everything while giving nothing – and if they can get the politicised ICJ to essentially say that any Israeli presence over the 1967 armistice lines is illegal, this seems to be a way to get exactly that.
Yet, ultimately, there is no shortcut for the Palestinians to reach some kind of resolution with the Israelis, despite their best efforts to have one imposed by international bodies.
Meanwhile, this latest resolution is just the most recent mark of shame for the UN, an organisation that was founded to bring about international peace and security, but that often does everything in its power to bring about the opposite.