UN General Assembly’s Fourth Committee Approves Draft Resolution Requesting an ICJ Advisory Opinion on the Legal Status and Consequences of Israel’s Prolonged Occupation

On Friday 11 November 2022, the United Nations’ (UN) Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonisation Committee), completing its work for the main part of the General Assembly’s (GA) seventy-seventh session, approved, by a recorded vote of 98 in favour to 17 against, with 52 abstentions (including the UK), a nine-page draft resolution titled “Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. The resolution requested a second advisory opinion, from the International Court of Justice (ICJ), on the following questions:

1.     “What are the legal consequences arising from the ongoing violation by Israel of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, from its prolonged occupation, settlement and annexation of the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, and from its adoption of related discriminatory legislation and measures?

2.     “How do the policies and practices of Israel referred to in paragraph 18 (a) above affect the legal status of the occupation, and what are the legal consequences that arise for all States and the United Nations from this status?

 On 9 July 2004, the ICJ provided its Advisory Opinion on the legal consequences of the construction of a wall being built by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), including in and around East Jerusalem, as requested by Resolution ES-10114 adopted by the UNGA on 8 December 2003 at its Tenth Emergency Special Session. The Court concluded that the construction of the wall by Israel, and its associated regime, is contrary to international law and as a result Israel is under an obligation to cease and dismantle the construction, and make reparations for all damaged caused by the construction. The Court also found that all states are under an obligation not to recognise the “illegal situation” resulting from the construction, not to render aid or assistance in maintaining the situation, and States party to the Fourth Geneva Convention 1949 have an additional obligation to ensure compliance by Israel with international humanitarian law.


In its second report to UNGA on 14 September 2022, the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the OPT, including East Jerusalem, and Israel found that there are “reasonable grounds to conclude that the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory is now unlawful under international law owing to its permanence and to actions undertaken by Israel to annex parts of the land de facto and de jure”. The Commission recommended that UNGA urgently requests an advisory opinion from the ICJ on the legal consequences of the continued refusal by Israel to end its occupation of the OPT, including East Jerusalem.


The International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) calls on the UK to support the Resolution. In light of Israel’s prolonged occupation of the OPT, including East Jerusalem, its incoming far-right government, and the possibility of the governing coalition passing legislation, which would allow the legislature to override Basic Laws and rulings by its Supreme Court with a simple majority, it is imperative that an independent, international judicial body impartially assesses the legal status and consequences of Israel’s prolonged occupation. UNGA are likely due to vote on the present Resolution in mid-December and ICJP will continue to closely monitor developments.