Published online by Cambridge University Press: 09 December 2021
While the General Assembly was considering whether to recommend partitioning Palestine, the Arab states that were UN members asked the General Assembly to submit to the UN judicial arm, the International Court of Justice, the question of the legitimacy of partition. This proposal was backed by nearly half of the UN membership but failed of passage. The International Court of Justice has the power to issue a non-binding opinion on any legal question put to it by the General Assembly or Security Council. After a Jewish state was declared, Syria made a proposal in the Security Council to seek such an advisory opinion on the legal status of Palestine upon Britain’s withdrawal, and the legitimacy of the Jewish state that was declared at that time. Syria’s view was that Palestine as a single entity automatically acquired independence upon Britain’s withdrawal. It proposed an advisory opinion in the expectation that the International Court of Justice would agree. In initial discussion of this proposal in the Security Council, several members spoke in its support. A vote on the proposal was put off to a future meeting.