By Muslim Mirror Desk
Following a UN request for an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on the legality of Israeli policies in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem, more than 90 nations have expressed “deep concern” about Israel’s punitive measures against the Palestinian people, leadership, and civil society.
Regardless of how they feel about the resolution passed by the General Assembly, the signatories to a statement issued by the Palestinians on Monday called for a reversal of the Israeli actions, “we reject punitive measures in response to a request for an advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice.”
On December 30, the 193-member General Assembly adopted the resolution, which had been strongly opposed by Israel and supported by the Palestinians, 87-26 with 53 abstentions. The International Court of Justice’s decisions can affect public opinion even though they are not legally enforceable.
On January 6, Israel’s new hardline government retaliated by approving measures to punish the Palestinians. Two days later, at a meeting of his Cabinet, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that the actions against the Palestinians were in response to what he called “an extreme anti-Israel” move at the UN.
The Security Cabinet of the government made the decision to withhold USD 39 million from the Palestinian Authority and divert the money to a programme for compensation for the families of Israelis killed in Palestinian militant attacks.
The amount paid last year to families of Palestinian prisoners and those killed in the conflict, including militants linked to attacks against Israelis, will be deducted from the amount of money Israel typically transfers to the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority. Israel claims that the so-called Martyrs’ Fund encourages violence, while the Palestinian leadership views the payments as necessary social welfare.
The Security Cabinet also targeted Palestinian officials directly, saying it would deny benefits to “VIPs who are leading the political and legal war against Israel.” The first Palestinian affected was Foreign Minister Riad Malki who said in a statement on January 8 that he was returning from the Brazilian president’s inauguration when he was informed that Israel rescinded his VIP travel permit, which allows top Palestinian officials to travel more easily in and out of the occupied West Bank than ordinary Palestinians.
Representatives from the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, 37 other countries, including 27 from Europe, including Germany, France, and Italy, as well as Japan, South Korea, Brazil, Mexico, and South Africa, signed the statement that was made public on Monday.
Palestinian UN Ambassador Riyad Mansour welcomed the statement of support saying“we exercised our democratic rights to go to the General Assembly in a peaceful way, a legal way, and put a question to the ICJ to seek an advisory opinion.” “What is amazing about that statement,” he said, is that it was signed by some countries that abstained or voted against the resolution referring the question to the court.
“But to punish people for going to the General Assembly in an adoption of a resolution is something else,” Mansour said. “That’s why they stood with us and opposed this policy of the Israeli government, and they are demanding a reversal of this decision.”
On January 18, when the Security Council meets in the Middle East to discuss the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he predicted more nations will join in support of the statement.