ICJP statement on UK seeking to block ICJ ruling on Israeli occupation of Palestine

The International Centre of Justice for Palestinians are alarmed by the UK government’s legal opinion submitted to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which allegedly opposes an investigation into the illegality of Israel’s occupation of Palestine.  

On the 30th December 2022, the United Nations General Assembly voted to request a ruling on Israel’s prolonged occupation of Palestine. The ICJ is planning on ruling on the legality of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories, as well as the responsibilities that countries have to bring the occupation to an end. Last month, the United Kingdom submitted an ‘amicus brief’, a 43-page legal opinion, to the ICJ. The legal opinion opposed the case being heard on the grounds that an advisory opinion would effectively settle Israel’s ‘bilateral dispute’ without Israel’s consent. 

ICJP consider this viewpoint to be underpinned by implicit pro-Israeli framing. By portraying Israel’s deeply entrench occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, and its illegal annexation of East Jerusalem, as a ‘bilateral dispute’, the UK is turning a blind eye to the reality on the ground, namely the subjugation of the Palestinian people. 

Unlike the submissions sent by other West European countries, the UK’s submission does not reference UN findings that Israel has repeatedly failed to fulfil its obligation to uphold the rights of the Palestinian people and violated international humanitarian law. By omitting this crucial contextualisation, and by opposing any scrutiny into Israel’s action by the ICJ, the UK is complicit in failing to hold Israel accountable for its entrenchment of occupation.

This is especially troubling when viewed in conjunction with an ongoing domestic bill tabled by the Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government, the Anti-Boycott Bill. The bill, which seeks to prevent UK public bodies from boycotting Israel, also has a clause where it does not adequately distinguish between Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. This has been criticised by the ICJP and other human rights organisations as a break from longstanding UK foreign policy. When viewed in conjunction with this latest legal opinion, this represents a worrying trend where the UK is inadequate in its opposition to illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. 

Finally, by seeking to block the ICJ ruling on Israeli occupation of Palestine, the British government is also showing an inconsistency in how it responds to occupations based on political motivations. In contrast to strong rhetoric against Russia’s occupation of Ukraine, the UK government risks hypocrisy that appears to be motivated by close diplomatic relations with Israel. 


Notes to Editors

  1. The International Centre of Justice for Palestinians is an independent organisation of lawyers, politicians and academics who support the rights of Palestinians and aim to protect their rights through the law. 
  2. The original story is available in The Guardian.
  3. For more information, or to arrange an interview with a spokesperson please contact: Jonathan Purcell, Public Affairs and Communications Officer, at [email protected]