Netanyahu pans ‘despicable’ UN vote, says Jews cannot be occupiers in their own land

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the United Nations General Assembly Saturday for a resolution passed the previous day to refer Israel’s “occupation… of Palestinian territory” to the International Court of Justice, accusing the global body of “distorting historical facts” and declaring that the Jewish people cannot be “an occupier” in their own land.

In a strongly worded statement, Netanyahu, who only regained the prime ministership on Thursday, said Israel would not be bound by the UNGA resolution demanding that the ICJ weigh in on the conflict in accordance with international law and the UN charter.

“Like hundreds of the twisted decisions against Israel taken by the UNGA over the years, today’s despicable decision will not bind the Israeli government. The Jewish nation is not an occupier in its own land and its own eternal capital, Jerusalem,” he said, adding that “no UN decision can distort the historical facts.”

“We will continue to fight for the truth,” the statement concluded.

The UN General Assembly resolution, passed by 87 votes to 26, calls on the Hague-based ICJ to “render urgently an advisory opinion” on Israel’s “prolonged occupation, settlement and annexation of Palestinian territory.”

It also calls for an investigation into Israeli measures “aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem” and says Israel has adopted “discriminatory legislation and measures.”

Newly appointed Foreign Minister Eli Cohen also labeled the decision “anti-Israeli” and charged that the passage of the resolution gives “support to terrorist organizations and the antisemitic BDS movement.”

“This latest initiative is another mistake by the Palestinian leadership which for years has supported and incited terror and leads its people in a manner that harms Palestinians themselves and any potential end to the conflict,” Cohen said.

Likud MK Eli Cohen speaks at a conference in Tel Aviv, December 8, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

“This decision will not change anything on the ground and will not prevent us from fighting terror, defending the citizens of Israel and advancing the country’s interests.”

Israel’s former UN envoy Danny Danon told Channel 12 that the Palestinian tactic of “embarrassing” Israel on the global stage was part of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s strategy of “diplomatic terror.”

“In my opinion, this is a test of our new government, to make [Mahmoud] Abbas paid a price for refusing to talk to any government [instead] embarrass it from the outside,” Danon said.

A UN General Assembly voted December 30, 2022, on a resolution requesting the International Court of Justice to weigh in on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (Screenshot/UN)

Meanwhile, a Haaretz report on Saturday said that the government has not yet decided whether it would comply with the ICJ investigation.

The report also said that the government is concerned that any findings from an ICJ investigation would be used by the Palestinian Authority to attack Israel further in international bodies, including attempts to impose sanctions on the country.

A general view of a session of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, on October 1, 2018. (Bas Zerwinski/ANP/AFP)

Following the UNGA vote, the ICJ will begin to produce an advisory opinion report, a process that is expected to take some time, probably at least a year.

Prior to that, the ICJ will call for a public submission of opinions, which will be taken into consideration in the final report, followed by a public hearing procedure.

The case may also be escalated to the International Criminal Court, which is capable of making legally binding decisions.

Jerusalem has previously argued that the court does not have jurisdiction over it since Israel is not a member of the court and has not ratified its Rome Statute. But the ICC ruled last year that it has jurisdiction in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem since it accepted Palestine as a member state in 2015.

Luke Tress contributed to this report.

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