UN General Assembly refers Israeli occupation to International Court of Justice - GulfToday

UN General Assembly refers Israeli occupation to International Court of Justice


Palestinian Ambassador Riyad H. Mansour speaks during a meeting at United Nations headquarters. File / AP

The UN General Assembly on Friday asked the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to consider consequences for Israel over its occupation of Palestinian territories, a day after the Jewish state's right-wing government took over.

The General Assembly voted 87-26 with 53 abstentions on the resolution, with Western nations split but virtually unanimous support in the Islamic world and backing from Russia and China.

The resolution calls on the UN court in The Hague to determine the "legal consequences arising from the ongoing violation by Israel of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination" as well as of its measures "aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status" of the holy city of Jerusalem.

The Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, said the vote sent a signal to the new government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over its efforts to "accelerate colonial and racist policies" and hailed nations that were "undeterred by threats and pressure."

"We trust that regardless of your vote today, if you believe in international law and peace, you will uphold the opinion of the International Court of Justice when delivered," Mansour said.

Speaking ahead of the vote, the Israeli ambassador, Gilad Erdan, called the resolution "a moral stain on the UN." "No international body can decide that the Jewish people are occupiers in their own homeland," Erdan said.

"Any decision from a judicial body which receives its mandate from the morally bankrupt and politicised UN is completely illegitimate," he said.

The resolution also demands that Israel cease settlements, but General Assembly votes have no legal force — unlike those in the Security Council, where Israel ally US wields veto power.

The United States, Britain and Germany opposed the resolution, while France abstained.

"We do not feel that a referral to the International Court of Justice is helpful in bringing the parties back to dialogue," British diplomat Thomas Phipps said.

"It is also the position of the UK that it is inappropriate without the consent of both parties to ask the court to give an advisory opinion in what is essentially a bilateral dispute."

Among Western nations that backed the resolution was Portugal, whose representative acknowledged the "risk of over-judicialising international relations" but said the world court "underpins the international rules-based order which we seek to preserve."

The Hague-based ICJ, also known as the World Court, is the top UN court dealing with disputes between states. Its rulings are binding, though the ICJ has no power to enforce them.

Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem - areas the Palestinians want for a state - in a 1967 war. Peace talks broke down in 2014.

"The time has come for Israel to be a state subject to law, and to be held accountable for its ongoing crimes against our people," Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said.

The Palestinians have limited rule in the West Bank and East Jerusalem was annexed by Israel in a move not recognised internationally. Its settlements in those territories are deemed illegal by most countries, a view Israel disputes citing Biblical and historical ties to the land, as well as security.

Separately, at least 35 Palestinians were injured by Israeli soldiers during clashes in downtown the northern West Bank city of Nablus, authorities said.

The Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) said that two of the wounded were shot by live bullets, three by rubber-coated metal bullets, and 25 suffered respiratory damage after inhaling teargas fired by the Israeli soldiers to disperse Palestinians who were throwing stones at them, reported Xinhua news agency.


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