Another toothless UN resolution?

File photo used for representational purpose File photo used for representational purpose

The UN General Assembly last Friday (December 31) passed a resolution seeking the International Court of Justice (ICJ)'s opinion on the legal consequences of Israel's illegal occupation of Palestinian territories. Notably, the ICJ is the UN's highest court. Seated in The Hague, ICJ's job is to settle legal disputes that states submit to it and provide advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorised UN organs and specialised agencies. While five of the six principal organs of the UN are situated in New York, it is the only one that is outside the USA. As with most other resolutions adopted earlier supporting Palestinian cause, this one, too, enjoyed the support of the majority UN members. For 87 UN members voted in favour of the proposal; 26 including the US, the UK and Germany opposed, while 53 members abstained from voting. Muslim countries in overwhelming numbers voted in favour of the proposal. Even the Arab nations that recently established diplomatic relations with Israel backed the pro-Palestine resolution. Interestingly, the European members of the UN were split over the voting. France, for example, abstained from voting. This is a positive development in favour of the Palestinian cause, because, unlike the other two European powers-the UK and Germany-France did not at least oppose the pro-Palestine proposal put to vote at the UNGA.

Now the big question is how Palestine is going to gain from the resolution adopted on December 31, 2022. To be frank, other than its symbolic value that majority of the UN members consider Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories illegal and that Israel must face the consequences of its actions and be brought to justice, the latest UN resolution is going to add yet another failure to the long list of failed UNGA motions calling in question Israel's blatant violation of international laws in occupied Palestine.

This is for the simple reason that UN resolutions are not binding on its members. In a similar vein, the ICJ's rulings, too, are not binding. Moreover, ICJ has no power to enforce its directives. So, it is not surprising that not a single resolution adopted against Israel condemning its continued occupation of the Arab lands that it grabbed during 1967's Arab-Israeli war had any impact on the status quo in the region.

And since the UN resolutions are by definition toothless, Israel has systematically been defying those. And Israel also knows that apart from the UN's inherent weakness in implementing its resolutions, the world powers led by the USA will always support its unjust actions in Palestine. So, when the deputy prime minister of the Palestinian National Authority, Nabil Abu Redeiheh, hailed the December 31's UN vote as a victory for Palestine adding that it was time for holding Israel 'accountable for its ongoing crimes against our people', the new Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu who has come to power for the sixth time with his extremist agenda termed it (the UN resolution) 'despicable'. And far from showing any respect to the opinion of the majority of the UN members as reflected through its latest voting, Netanyahu dismissed it declaring with his  and his far-right cabinet colleagues' characteristic hubris that 'Jewish people are not occupiers of their own land nor occupiers in our eternal capital Jerusalem and no UN resolution can warp that historical truth'.

So, until there is a dramatic shift in the world powers' stance towards the Palestinian cause, nothing is going to stop Israel from expanding the Jewish settlements in the West Bank  and East Jerusalem.

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