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Palestinians praise the UN International Court of Justice’s vote on the Israeli occupation, describing it as a ‘victory’

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The Palestinians welcomed the vote of the United Nations General Assembly to invite the International Court of Justice to express an opinion on the legal repercussions of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.

The Hague-based International Court of Justice, also known as the World Court, is the highest court of the United Nations that deals with state disputes. Its rulings are binding, although the International Court of Justice cannot enforce them.

However, Friday’s vote presents a challenge to Israel’s new prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who took office on Thursday at the head of a far-right government that includes parties calling for annexation of occupied West Bank territory.

Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem – areas the Palestinians wanted for their state – in the 1967 war. Peace talks collapsed in 2014.

“The time has come for Israel to be a state subject to the law and held accountable for its continuing crimes against our people,” said Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Israeli officials have not yet issued any comment on the vote. Israel’s envoy to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, condemned it before it was held with the start of the Jewish Sabbath.

Senior Palestinian official Hussein al-Sheikh said on Twitter that the vote “reflects the victory of Palestinian diplomacy”. 87 members voted in favor of adopting the application; Israel, the United States and 24 other countries voted against it. 53 abstained from voting.

The Palestinians enjoy limited rule in the West Bank, and Israel annexed East Jerusalem in a move not recognized internationally. Its settlements in those lands are considered illegal by most countries. A view that Israel opposes, citing biblical and historical ties to the land, as well as security.

The United Nations General Assembly has asked the International Court of Justice to provide an advisory opinion on the legal consequences of Israel’s “occupation, settlement and annexation … its adoption of relevant discriminatory legislation and measures.”

The new Israeli government has pledged to consolidate its settlements in the West Bank, but Netanyahu has not indicated any imminent steps toward annexing them.

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