UK 'could block ICJ occupied Palestinian Territory designation': report

UK 'could block ICJ occupied Palestinian Territory designation': report
The ICJ ruling would condemn the Israeli occupation of the West Bank.
2 min read
24 August, 2023
The ICJ could hear the landmark ruling next year [Getty]

The UK is "seeking to block the International Court of Justice (ICJ) from addressing important international humanitarian law matters", according to a legal opinion, The Guardian has reported.

A 43-page legal opinion submitted to the ICJ by the UK was seen by The Guardian before a report on "occupation, settlement and annexation" of occupied Palestinian territory is submitted and reportedly opposes the court's hearing on the issue.

The UK is just one of a few states expected to oppose the general consensus on Israel's occupation of the West Bank, The Guardian reported, which has been defined by some major NGOs, such as Amnesty International, as apartheid. 

The report does not mention the political situation in Israel or the occupied Palestinian Territory - where a far-right Israeli government has overseen a series of deadly raids in the West Bank - or a 2016 UN report that said Israel had not fulfilled its legal obligations to the Palestinian people, the report added.

Live Story

Israel has occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem since 1967 and enforced a punishing siege on Gaza since 2007. This year, more than 200 Palestinians have been killed, with 70 dead in West Bank city of Jenin alone.

The ICJ is accepting opinions on the legality of Israel's occupation of the West Bank as a whole and whether the act is a temporary measure.

Most member states and NGOs involved in the briefing will likely issue damning statements on the occupation with an advisory opinion expected to begin next year, the UK daily said.

The UK foreign office said in a statement sent to The Guardian: "The UK is committed to working with both Israel and the Palestinian Authority to advance a peaceful two-state solution with Jerusalem as the shared capital. We are deeply concerned by instability in the West Bank and call on all sides to work together to urgently de-escalate the situation."

A Palestinian source told the daily: "The UK submission is a complete endorsement of Israeli talking points. They are not arguing that this is not the right time to go to the ICJ, because the peace process is working. They are saying the Israeli violations Palestinians point out are not as important as negotiation frameworks from decades ago."

Earlier, the Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, claimed the ruling would "hammer the final nail in the coffin" of peace negotiations with Palestinians.

Successive Israeli governments have not engaged in talks with Palestinian officials on talks that could lead to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, rights groups say.