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Over 90 countries urge Israel to lift sanctions on Palestinians after UN vote

NEW YORK — More than 90 countries on Monday called on Israel to reverse action taken against the Palestinian Authority for its request to investigate Israel at the United Nations.

Late last month, the United Nations General Assembly approved a Palestinian-sponsored resolution calling on the International Court of Justice to rule on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Israeli “annexation” and the “legal status of occupation”.

After resolution passedIsrael has decided to take funds from the Palestinian Authority for the benefit of the victims of Israeli terrorism, revoked the PA foreign minister’s special travel permit and denied benefits to some Palestinian officials, among other measures.

The statement issued on Monday was signed by representatives of Arab nations and the 57 members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and 37 other countries, including 27 from Europe, including Germany, France and Italy, as well as Japan, South Korea, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa.

“Regardless of each country’s position on the resolution, we reject punitive measures in response to a request for an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice, and more broadly in response to a General Assembly resolution, and call on to their immediate cancellation,” the letter said.

Germany’s UN mission said the countries had differing views on last month’s resolution, but “are in agreement on the rejection of punitive measures in response to the resolution”.

“Requesting an advisory opinion from the ICJ cannot and should not be grounds for punitive measures. For anyone. At any time,” the Danish mission to the UN said.

France and Belgium issued statements after the signing, reaffirming their commitment to “international law and multilateralism”.

Also on Monday, a spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he “notes with deep concern the recent Israeli moves against the Palestinian Authority” and that there should “be no reprisals against the Palestinian Authority in relation to the International Court of Justice”. .“

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, left, speaks alongside Hayashi Yoshimasa, Japan’s Foreign Minister, during a meeting of the Security Council, January 12, 2023, at the United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

The 193-member General Assembly voted 87-26 with 53 abstentions on Dec. 30 to pass the ICJ resolution.

Among retaliatory measures approved by the Israeli government seize $39 million in tax revenue that Israel collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority and funnel it to Israeli victims of Palestinian terrorism; deduct revenue to offset payments the PA makes to Palestinian terrorists, attackers, security prisoners and their families; the freeze on Palestinian construction in much of the West Bank; and the cancellation of some Palestinian VIP benefits.

The move underscored the tough line the new government is taking toward the Palestinians at a time of mounting violence in the West Bank and peace talks a distant memory.

The resolution calling for the inquiry is titled “Israeli Settlement Practices and Activities Affecting the Rights of the Palestinian People and Other Arabs of the Occupied Territories” and calls on the Hague-based ICJ to “urgently render an advisory opinion” on “the prolonged occupation, colonization 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 Jerusalem” and claims that Israel has adopted “discriminatory legislation and measures”.

A vote by the United Nations General Assembly on December 30, 2022 on a resolution asking the International Court of Justice to rule on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (Screenshot/UN)

The ICJ, also known as the World Court, is the United Nations’ highest court for mediating disputes between countries. Its decisions have the force of law and influence public opinion, but it has no enforcement mechanism. The court is separate from the International Criminal Court, which is also in The Hague.

The tribunal issued a final advisory opinion on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in 2004 when the General Assembly asked it to rule on the legality of the security barrier that Israel has built along much of the West Bank.

Israel slammed last month’s resolution by biased and contemptuous Israeli security concerns.

Israel’s UN envoy Gilad Erdan condemned the text for referring to the Temple Mount only by its Arabic name, Haram al-Sharif. The Temple Mount is the holiest place for Jews as the site of ancient temples, and the third holiest site in Islam as the location of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Erdan also censured the UN for organizing the vote after the start of Shabbat.

The Palestinians applauded the resolution as a “diplomatic victory”.

Riyad Mansour, Palestinian representative to the United Nations, speaks during a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, January 5, 2023. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

The Temple Mount was also the subject of passionate urgency Security Council session earlier this month, which was called after National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir visited the powder keg site.

The Security Council will hold a new hearing on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Wednesday morning.

The UN has a long history of passing resolutions against Israel, and both Israel and the US accuse it of bias. Israel has accused the Palestinians, who have non-member observer state status at the UN, of trying to use the world body to circumvent peace talks and impose a settlement.

Last year, the General Assembly adopted more resolutions criticism of Israel than against all the other nations put together.

In addition to the resolutions, investigations into Israel are being conducted by a UN commission of inquiry and a special rapporteur, the only country subject to such scrutiny. Members of both surveys are registered make antisemitic statementsbut faced no repercussions from the UN for their comments.

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