UNITED NATIONS: Ahead of a UN Security Council meeting on the Palestine issue on Wednesday (today), a group of around 90 countries — including Pakistan — called on Israel to lift the sanctions it imposed on the Palestinian Authority earlier this month over its push to get the UN top court to issue an advisory opinion on the Israeli occupation.

Separately, Israeli soldiers shot dead a Palestinian man on Tuesday after he allegedly fired at troops in the occupied West Bank.

On Dec 30, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution requesting an opinion from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the issue of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

In retaliation, Israel on on Jan 6 announced a series of sanctions, including financial ones, against the Palestinian Authority to make it “pay the price” for pushing for the resolution.

UNSC to debate issue today; another Palestinian shot dead in occupied West Bank

A statement, signed by representatives of Arab nations and the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and 37 other countries — 27 of them from Europe, reiterated their “unwavering support” for the ICJ and international law, saying they were “deeply concerned about the Israeli government’s decision to impose punitive measures against the Palestinian people, leadership and civil society”.

“Regardless of each country’s position on the resolution, we reject punitive measures in response to a request for an advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice, and more broadly in response to a General Assembly resolution, and call for their immediate reversal,” the members said.

“This is significant as it shows that regardless of how countries have voted, they are united in rejecting these punitive measures,” the Palestinian ambassador to the UN, Riyadh Mansour, said in a statement.

Asked about the members’ statement, a spokeswoman for the UN secretary-general reiterated Antonio Guterres’s “deep concern” about “recent Israeli measures against the Palestinian Authority,” stressing that “there should be no retaliation” in connection with the ICJ.

A UN Security Council meeting on the Palestinian issue is scheduled for Wednesday.

A previous meeting this month, after the visit of an Israeli minister to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, known in Judaism as the Temple Mount, led to a tense verbal exchange between Israeli and Palestinian diplomats.

Palestinian killed

Meanwhile, the Palestinian health ministry said a Palestinian named Hamdi Abu Dayyeh, 40, was killed “by Israeli occupation bullets” in the southern town of Halhul. Israel’s army said an assailant shot at soldiers, “who responded with live fire and neutralised him”.

An AFP photographer saw the body of a man beside a military tower at the northern entrance to the town, before it was covered by soldiers.

A Palestinian woman said she was in a car with her family when gunfire erupted.

“We were on the road, people were moving around normally... the army kept firing, we got down under the seats,” said Umm Amir Taqatqa, a resident of nearby Beit Fajjar.

The Halhul shooting raises the toll of Palestinians killed this month in the West Bank to 15, according to a tally. The majority have been killed by Israeli forces, which have occupied the West Bank since the 1967 Six-Day War.

A surge in violence in 2022 made it the deadliest year in the West Bank since United Nations records began in 2005.

Published in Dawn, January 18th, 2023

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