Israel fears stronger support for BDS following UN referral of occupation to ICJ

Israel fears stronger support for BDS following UN referral of occupation to ICJ
2 min read
12 November, 2022
Israeli commentators have warned that calls for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) will grow louder following a UN decision to refer Israel's occupation of the West Bank to the International Court of Justice.
Israel's ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, strongly criticised the decision to refer the occupation of the West Bank to the ICJ [Getty images]

Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan said the world body is “about to hammer the final nail in the coffin” of peace negotiations with Palestine after a key UN committee called on the International Court of Justice to issue a legal opinion on Israel’s annexation of Palestinian territory.

The United Nations’ decolonisation committee mandated the ICJ on Friday to provide a ruling on the legal consequences of denying the Palestinian people the right to self-determination as a result of Israel’s actions since the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

Erdan, who is well known for his anti-Palestinian rhetoric and actions, claimed that “the Palestinians are exploiting the ICJ as a weapon of mass destruction in their Jihad war of Israel demonisation.”

The call for an ICJ opinion, while not legally binding, has caused consternation in the Israeli media, with fears of stronger international support for BDS if the court finds Israel’s continued occupation of Palestinian territory to be unlawful.  

Erdan has previously claimed in the past that Palestinian culture is inherently violent - and during his tenure as public security minister, he led efforts with Mossad to quash the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. 

Israeli commentators have expressed fear that the ruling may strengthen demands to stop buying goods produced by West Bank settlements, and to boycott Israeli companies that have economic or commercial links with settlement activity. 

Itamar Eichner, writing in Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, warned that if the court ruled against Israel's occupation of the West Bank, it would cause a “political headache for Tel Aviv”.

Eichner expects that Israel will not cooperate with the court’s ruling if it finds that Israeli presence in Palestinian territories constitutes a continuous occupation.

Elsewhere, Israeli researcher Eliav Lieblich wrote in Israel Hayom that the UN resolution represents a “severe blow to Israel’s narrative” in the West Bank since the 1967 occupation. 

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki welcomed the vote’s results, thanking in a statement the 98 countries that supported the resolution - while 52 abstained and 17 voted against.