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90 countries raise “deep concern” about Israeli punitive measures

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More than 90 countries have expressed “deep concern” about Israel’s punitive measures against the Palestinian people, leadership and civil society following a UN request for an advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice on the legality of Israeli policies in the occupied West Bank and its east. Jerusalem.

In a statement released Monday by the Palestinians, the signatories called for a reversal of the Israeli measures, saying regardless of their position on the General Assembly resolution, “we reject punitive measures in response to a request for an advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice.” justice.”

The 193-member General Assembly voted 87-26 with 53 abstentions on Dec. 30 in favor of the resolution, which was promoted by the Palestinians and strongly opposed by Israel. Although the rulings of the International Court of Justice are not legally binding, they can influence global public opinion.

Israel’s new hardline government responded on January 6 by approving steps to punish the Palestinians in retaliation. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a meeting of his cabinet two days later that the measures against the Palestinians were aimed at what he described as an extreme anti-Israel move at the United Nations.

The government’s security cabinet decided to withhold $39 million from the Palestinian Authority and instead divert the money into a compensation program for families of Israeli victims of attacks by Palestinian militants.

It also decided to deduct the amount of revenue that Israel normally transfers to the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority by an amount equal to the amount paid out last year to the families of Palestinian prisoners and those killed in the conflict, including militants involved in attacks against Israelis. The Palestinian leadership describes the payments as a necessary social welfare, while Israel says the so-called Martyrs’ Fund incites violence.

The security cabinet also directly targeted Palestinian officials, saying it would deny benefits to “high-ranking figures who lead the political and legal war against Israel”.

The first Palestinian to be affected was Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki, who said in a statement on January 8 that he was returning from the Brazilian president’s inauguration when he was informed that Israel had revoked his VIP travel permit, which allows senior Palestinian officials to travel more easily into the country. . Outside the occupied West Bank are ordinary Palestinians.

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

Palestine’s ambassador to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, welcomed the statement of support, telling the Associated Press, “We have exercised our democratic rights to go to the General Assembly in a peaceful and legal way and put a question to the International Court of Justice for an advisory opinion.”

“What is surprising about this statement,” he said, was that it was signed by some states that abstained or voted against the resolution referring the case to the court.

“But punishing people for going to the General Assembly to adopt a resolution is something else,” Mansour said. “That is why they stood with us and opposed this policy of the Israeli government, and demanded a retraction of this decision,” he added.

He expected more countries to support the statement when the Security Council holds its monthly meeting on the Middle East and focuses on the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict on January 18.

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