Canada Asks ICJ to Drop Opinion on Israeli Occupation and Annexation

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Canada has formally requested the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to decline a request from the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to render an advisory opinion on the legal consequences of the Israeli occupation and annexation of Palestinian territory. This move has sparked outrage from human rights groups, who accuse Canada of hypocrisy and complicity in Israel’s violations of international law.

The UNGA voted 87-26 in December 2020 to ask the ICJ to issue an opinion on the illegality of Israel’s “prolonged occupation, settlement and annexation” of Palestinian land, with Canada voting in the minority against the resolution. In a letter dated July 14, 2023, which was obtained by Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME), Canada has now formally asked the ICJ to “decline the request” from the UNGA.

Canada’s letter argues that the ICJ should not accept the UNGA’s request because Israel “has not provided consent for the ICJ to be seized of this matter.” Canada also claims that the Israeli occupation is not the “primary responsibility” of the General Assembly, but of the UN Security Council, “which has established a framework to allow for the resolution of the dispute through negotiations of the parties.”

CJPME, a non-profit organization that advocates for peace and human rights in the Middle East, has denounced Canada’s intervention as “deeply hypocritical” and “an affront to the legitimate grievances and human rights needs of the Palestinian people.” CJPME points out that Canada has spoken forcefully against Russia’s occupation of Ukraine, but is willing to deny access to justice for Palestinians in order to protect Israel from accountability.

CJPME also notes that Israel’s far-right government has taken numerous steps to entrench an illegal de facto annexation of Palestinian territory in the West Bank, such as publishing a statement of guiding principles that asserts an “exclusive” right to “all parts of the Land of Israel,” advancing 15 new illegal settlements and more than 7,000 illegal settlement units, and making a significant change to its governance over the West Bank that is widely understood to amount to the de jure annexation of the territory.

CJPME urges the Canadian government to reverse its position and support the ICJ’s advisory opinion on Israel’s occupation and annexation, as well as impose sanctions against Israeli officials responsible for these actions. CJPME argues that now, more than ever, international condemnation is needed to force Israel to end its human rights abuses against Palestinians.

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