Israel's Yair Lapid urges foreign states to stop ICJ opinion on occupation

Outgoing Prime Minister's move comes after Palestinian request to International Court of Justice

Israel's Prime Minister Yair Lapid heads a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on November 20.  Reuters
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Israel's departing Prime Minister Yair Lapid has written to more than 50 countries to try to stop a UN vote that would ask the International Court of Justice to give an advisory opinion on Israel's occupation of the West Bank.

Mr Lapid's letter to the leaders urged them to pressure the Palestinian Authority to shelf the motion, he said on Tuesday.

The Palestinian resolution, already approved by a UN committee, asked the ICJ to weigh in on Israel's “prolonged occupation, settlement and annexation of the Palestinian territory”, which it said violates the Palestinian right to self-determination.

The bid is part of an orchestrated effort to discriminate against Israel, Mr Lapid said in a tweet.

“The status of disputed territory will be subject to direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians,” he wrote in the letter. A “one-sided change to such a policy will have detrimental effects on the entire region”, he added.

Israel captured the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, which Palestinians want for an independent state, in 1967.

A spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Mr Lapid's efforts were “doomed to fail”.

Israel has launched almost daily raids into Palestinian territory this year, killing 205 in what has been the deadliest year since 2005. Israel says the raids are necessary to crack down on militant groups held responsible for attacks that have killed more than 20 Israelis.

On Monday, the UN said it feared the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is reaching “boiling point” just a day before five Palestinians were killed by the army in different areas of the West Bank. Two brothers were among those killed, shot dead west of Ramallah.

The return of Benjamin Netanyahu as Israel's next prime minister is expected to fuel further tension with Palestinians.

Securing victory with an alliance of right-wing and religious parties, several members of Mr Netanyahu's expected cabinet vehemently oppose Palestinian statehood. He has also slammed Mr Lapid for his support for a two-state solution during his time in office.

Incoming public security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who will assume control of Israel's police force, has reiterated calls for the death penalty in light of recent Palestinian attacks, with two people killed in rare twin bombings in Jerusalem last week.

Mr Ben-Gvir, who lives in the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba, has also pledged support for unrecognised Israeli outposts in the occupied territory.

Updated: November 30, 2022, 9:56 AM