Qatar votes for UN draft resolution pressing International Court of Justice for legal opinion on Israeli occupation of Palestine

Qatar has long expressed its support for the Palestinian cause while refusing to normalise with the Israeli regime.

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted a draft resolution on Friday requesting a legal opinion from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) “on the nature of the existence” of the Israeli occupation.

According to Palestine’s news agency (WAFA), the UNGA adopted the draft resolution after garnering 98 votes from countries at the UN. A total of 17 other countries voted against the draft resolution, including Washington, Tel Aviv’s main ally and backer.

Qatar was among the countries that voted in favour of a draft resolution titled “Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem”.

Representing a major breakthrough, the resolution seeks the ICJ’s advisory opinion on “the legal consequences arising from the ongoing violation by Israel of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination”. 

This included its ongoing occupation of Palestine, annexation of territories occupied in 1967 and settlement expansion. 

The UNGA also demanded that the Israeli regime halt all human rights violations against Palestinians’, from the ongoing killings to the frequent crackdowns on the indigenous population.

Riyad Al-Maliki, Palestine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, said the resolution is “a diplomatic and legal victory”.

The Palestinian official also thanked the nations that adopted and sponsored the resolution, calling on countries that voted against it to “not to stand on the wrong side of history.”

Meanwhile, Israel’s representative had urged delegations to vote against it as it “demonises” the Zionist state.

To date, Israel has not been held to account for its ongoing illegal occupation of Palestine, with various officials pointing to the role the intentional community’s complacency and lack of action in enabling the Zionist regime to act with impunity.

Qatar’s anti-Israel stance

On Saturday, Qatar called on the international community to “assume its moral and legal responsibility to end the occupation”, renewing its unwavering support for the Palestinian cause.

This came during remarks made by Sheikh Jassim Al-Thani, the Third Secretary of Qatar’s Permanent Mission to the UN, at the organisation’s headquarters in New York.

Sheikh Jassim slammed Israel’s occupation of Palestine as “a crime and a flagrant violation of the principles of the international law” as well as the UN charter and UNGA resolutions.

Addressing the Special Political and Decolonisation Committee of the United Nations General Assembly, the Qatari envoy “stressed the need not to prejudice the existing status of Al-Quds and the Islamic and Christian holy sites especially Al-Aqsa Mosque.

“He also renewed the State of Qatar’s condemnation of the killing and injury of civilians, arbitrary detention, imprisonment and forced displacement, in addition to the destruction and confiscation of civilian property,” as per a statement by Doha’s foreign ministry.

The Qatari envoy also reiterated the Gulf state’s condemnation of the brutal killing of veteran Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, renewing calls for “an urgent investigation”.

The latest comments come under Qatar’s continuous support for the Palestinian cause and its commitment to the Arab Peace Initiative.

Adopted in 2002, the policy mandates that Gulf Cooperation Council members refrain from normalising relations with Israel until it completely withdraws from territories it occupied in 1967.

In July, Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani warned about tensions and instability in the Middle East will continuing as long as Israel’s violations of international law in Palestine persists.

“The most major source of tension and instability will linger unless Israel stop its practices and violations of international law reflected in building settlements, changing Jerusalem’s character and continuing to impose a siege on Gaza,” the amir told the Jeddah Security and Development Summit.

Sheikh Tamim’s remarks were made at the high-profile meeting in Saudi Arabia, attended by leaders of the GCC+3—Jordan, Iraq and Egypt—as well as US President Joe Biden.

“The dangers looming over the Middle East region in light of the tense international situation require finding a just and lasting solution to the Palestinian cause, which occupies a central position among the peoples of our Arab and Islamic worlds and the forces of peace worldwide, because it is a just cause with a heavy symbolic weight at the same time,” he added.

The Qatari leader slammed Israel’s “politics of force” under which the Zionist state rejects concessions put forward by the Arab world.

Palestine is a non-UN member and was only granted the status of a “non-member observer state” at the international organisation in 2012 under a resolution adopted by the UNGA.

Granting Palestine a full membership would require the greenlight from the Security Council where the US, Israel’s closest ally, holds veto power. 

The full UN membership, if granted, would mean Palestine’s statehood is internationally recognised.

Meanwhile, Israel, which has continued to occupy Palestine for decades, enjoys full membership at the UN. 

The Zionist state received its membership in 1949, a year after the launch of the Nakba, or catastrophe, in which Israel forcibly displaced and killed Palestinians. 

Between 1947 until 1949, at least 750,000 Palestinian from a 1.9 million native population were forced out of their own land by Zionists militias who later established Israel.

At least 450 towns and villages were depopulated.

There are up to 5.6 million Palestinian refugees, with at least 28.4% scattered in 58 UNRWA-run camps in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza.

More than 70 massacres have been committed by Israel as it continues to forcibly displace Palestinians. 

Israel continues to murder and arrest Palestinians, including minors. According to Palestinian Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Addameer, there are 800 administrative detainees and at least 190 child prisoners.

The figure was much lower in September, where the agency recorded 670 administrative detainees and 175 child prisoners. The rise comes amid an increasing crackdown by the occupation forces, especially in the West Bank.

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