Israel may face ICC court over human rights atrocities

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Israel’s impunity towards its wholesale looting of Palestinian property, not to mention its brutal treatment of Palestinians themselves, might have to be curtailed in 2023 as international law might be catching up with the apartheid state.

On December 30th, The UN General Assembly voted to seek the opinion of the International Court of Justice on the legality of Israel’s policies in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The Assembly voted 87-26 in favour of the move, with 53 abstentions. Western nations were divided over support for the resolution, but there was virtually unanimous support from the Islamic world, including Arab states that have normalised relations with Israel, as well as from Russia and China.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed the vote. “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,” presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said.

Morocco, one of Israel’s key partners following Rabat signing a ‘normalization’ agreement with Israel will also no doubt welcome the move as it will help in quelling social unrest in the kingdom, with many Moroccans deeply unhappy about their own countries new relations with Israel, stoked by some commentators even suggesting that Rabat should do a U turn on the deal itself.

 

Many Moroccans are deeply unhappy about Rabat’s new relations with Israel, feeling that the rights of Palestinians have been sold out.

 

While the rulings of the UN’s highest judicial body are not binding, they are important as they influence international opinion, a role that many Europeans hoped would be taken up by the European Union, but which has remained largely silent about Israel’s illegal activities in the occupied region.

The UN’s role therefore and how it influences the ICC is more important than ever.

It last addressed the conflict in 2004, when the Assembly asked it to consider the legality of the Israeli-built separation barrier.

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.

Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour thanked countries that backed the measure, which was passed a day after the installation of Israel’s most right-wing government since it became a state in 1948.

“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,” Mr Mansour said.

He urged countries to “stand up” to Israel’s new government.

Israel did not speak at the Assembly, which voted during the Jewish Sabbath. In a written statement issued beforehand, Ambassador Gilad Erdan called the measure “outrageous”, the UN “morally bankrupt and politicised”, and said any potential decision from the court would be “completely illegitimate.”

Israel captured the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip in the 1967 Middle East war. The Palestinians are seeking an independent state comprising all three areas, as well as the West Bank and Gaza, for an independent state.

Israel considers the West Bank to be disputed territory and has built dozens of settlements that are now home to roughly 500,000 Jewish settlers, with last year alone a record breaking 12 months of illegal land theft.

In 2022 alone, Israeli occupation forces demolished 950 Palestinian homes and confiscated more than 113,000 dunams (113 square kilometres) of land in 2022 in an effort to expand illegal Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, a Palestinian research centre said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was sworn in for a sixth term at the end of December, has previously threatened to annex the territory. His Likud party has listed West Bank settlements as a top priority for his coalition government.

 


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