Belgium votes in favour of ICJ review into Israeli occupation

Belgium votes in favour of ICJ review into Israeli occupation
Credit: Belga / Nicolas Maeterlinck

On Friday, Belgium voted in favour of a United Nations resolution which would seek the legal opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

A spokesperson for the Foreign Affairs Ministry revealed that Belgium's choice was undertaken to promote the use of international law as being the most effective arbiter of alleged abuses against Palestinians.

Having been approved and adopted at the UN General Assembly on Friday, the proposed resolution called on the ICJ to determine the legal consequences of “Israel’s continuing violation of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.”

As a result, Belgium was one of the few EU27 Member States to vote in favour of the resolution, alongside Ireland, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal and Slovenia. While most chose to abstain, Germany and Italy voted against the resolution.

"Just like the hundreds of distorted UN General Assembly resolutions against Israel over the years, today's disgraceful resolution will not obligate the Government of Israel,” commented Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu whose new government had been sworn in on Thursday.

“The Jewish people is not occupying its land and is not occupying its eternal capital Jerusalem. No UN resolution can distort this historical truth.” In fact, for the Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, they live under occupation, deprived of any political rights and freedom of movement.

For Israelis, all of Jerusalem and the West Bank were part of the historical Jewish homeland and cannot be occupied in the negative sense of the word. Legally they are territory “held” until a political situation will be found and called just ‘the territories' or Judea and Samaria by their Biblical names.

Netanyahu added that he had spoken with world leaders who changed their votes as a result. For the first time in UN, the countries that supported a Palestinian initiative were a minority of UN members and those that did not support it (opposed, abstained or were absent) were a majority of member states.

Last week, Israel swore in its most far-right government in its history – which, given its ideological positioning, will likely worsen any abuses and seek to crush any prospects of a peace process.

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When asked on Monday why Belgium decided to vote in favour of the proposal, Joan Condijts, a spokesperson for Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib, explained that their choice was a way of remaining 'constant' on the country's international position.

"We remain in favour of respecting international law and any initiative that could contribute to this," Condijts added, which for includes "asking for the opinion of a court of justice."

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