Palestinians hail as ‘a victory’ UN vote on Israeli occupation
Palestinians have welcomed a vote by the United Nations General Assembly, which calls on the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to give an opinion on the legal consequences of the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“The time has come for Israel to be 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.
Senior Palestinian official Hussein al-Sheikh said on Twitter that Friday's vote “reflects the victory of Palestinian diplomacy.”
The resolution promoted by Palestinians passed by a vote of 87 in favor, 26 against, with 53 abstentions. Russia and China voted in favor of the resolution.
Israel, the US and 24 other members – including the United Kingdom and Germany – voted against the resolution, while France was among the 53 nations that abstained.
The resolution is titled “Israeli practices and settlement activities affecting the rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the occupied territories” and calls on the Hague-based ICJ to “render urgently an advisory opinion” on Israel’s “prolonged occupation, settlement and annexation of Palestinian territory.”
It also calls for an investigation into Israeli measures “aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Holy City of al-Quds” and says Israel has adopted “discriminatory legislation and measures.”
The resolution demands the court weigh in on the conflict in accordance with international law and the UN charter.
Palestine’s UN ambassador Riyad Mansour noted that the vote came one day after the swearing-in of a new far-right Israeli cabinet led by hawkish prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which he said promises an expansion of illegal settlements and will accelerate “colonial and racist policies” towards Palestinians.
More than 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East al-Quds.
All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law. The UN Security Council has condemned Israel’s settlement activities in the occupied territories in several resolutions.
Palestinians want the West Bank as part of a future independent state with East al-Quds as its capital.
The last round of Israeli-Palestinian talks collapsed in 2014. Among the major sticking points in those negotiations was Israel’s continued illegal settlement expansion.