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A landmark United Nations resolution requesting an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Israel’s prolonged illegal occupation of Palestine reflected its drive to pursue the Jewish nation’s model of demographic engineering in the Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir to turn its Muslim majority into a minority, Pakistan said. The decolonization committee of the United Nations adopted a draft Palestinian resolution asking that the World Court urgently weigh in on Israel’s prolonged illegal occupation, settlement, and annexation of the Palestinian territory, which it said were violating the Palestinians’ right to self-determination, in which 98 countries supported the resolution, 52 abstained, including India, and 17 voted against. Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem — areas that Palestinians want for a state — in a 1967 Middle East war. US-sponsored negotiations stalled in 2014. Another side, India’s abstention derives from its own policies of occupation in Jammu and Kashmir, usurpation of Kashmiri lands, demographic change, and denial of the right to self-determination — the precise issues of the Israeli occupation on which the General Assembly has sought an advisory opinion from the ICJ. Israeli culpability in Palestine will also confirm India’s culpability in occupied Kashmir. Israeli practices affecting the human rights of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem — call on the ICJ to determine the legal consequences arising from the ongoing violation by Israel of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination as well as of its measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character, and status of the city of Jerusalem. It also calls on the secretary general of the UN to present a report on the implementation of the resolution in the upcoming session of the General Assembly in September 2023. This vote comes one day after the new Israeli government was formed pledging to accelerate colonial and racist policies against the Palestinian people. The abstention from India, which champions itself as a supporter of the Palestinian cause, was especially noted as it underlined its apprehensions about the implications of referral of the issues of occupation, illegal settlements, and demographic change to the ICJ. By revoking Article 35-A of the Indian Constitution in August 2019, the extremist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi opened the floodgates of Israel-style settlements in Jammu and Kashmir as part of the ethnic cleansing of indigenous Muslim residents of the region. Kashmir’s special status ensured that foreign businesses were barred from operating in the region without a lease agreement with the government. Following the abrogation, all mining bids in the disputed territory were solicited online at a time when internet connectivity was still restricted in Kashmir. The result was a death blow to local businesses: for the first time, 70 percent of all mineral contracts in the region were awarded to non-Kashmiris. Not only that, but it also issued “the Jammu and Kashmir Grant of Domicile Certificate (procedure) rules” providing a fast-track procedure for the issuance of Kashmir domicile certificates within 15 days to people from mainland India. The sense of urgency to legalize the region’s status is further underscored in the new rules since non-compliance with the time frame provided therein attracts a penalty of Rs 50,000 from the salary of an errant officer. The rules also cover 800,000 armed forces personnel stationed in Jammu and Kashmir, along with their families, who in effect turn the occupiers into settlers in the occupied land. After the changes, the region’s population has lost the power to legislate or amend laws to protect their rights as minorities. These legislative changes may have the potential to pave the way for people from outside the former state of Jammu and Kashmir to settle in the region, alter the demographics of the region and undermine the minorities’ ability to exercise effectively their human rights. The number of successful applicants for domicile certificates that appear to be from outside occupied Jammu and Kashmir raises concerns that demographic change on a linguistic, religious and ethnic basis is already underway.
While witnessing such a swift response to the sufferings and human rights violations of Ukrainians, one wonders why the Kashmiri and Palestinian causes have not elicited the same favourable and supportive response from Western governments and media. Israeli culpability in Palestine will also confirm India’s culpability in occupied Kashmir.
Over the past 30 years, India-Israel ties have gone from ice-cold to warm. This has been a welcome development to Washington, which has sought to nudge India toward the West through such partnerships as the QUAD, including the U.S., Japan, Australia, and India, and I2U2 including India, Israel, the U.S., and the United Arab Emirates. The global rule of law can never be selective in that it is applicable to one state and remains inapplicable to the other. After Russia’s illegal annexation of the Ukrainian territories, this urge has become inevitable that the West, while criticizing the Russian annexation, should voice against the illegal and unlawful Indian annexation of the Kashmiri territories as well as against the Israeli annexation of the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). The time has come that a global order of justice must prevail vis-à-vis the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the states. The selective western criticism of Russian annexation and Russia’s human rights violation in Ukraine has galvanized its duplicity on these issues. Recently, the Foreign Ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America, and the High Representative of the European Union have made a joint statement regarding the Russian annexation of the Ukrainian parts. Same as, the fact is that for decades, the people of Palestine and Kashmir have been waiting to see a similar western stand against the Israeli and Indian annexation of their respective territories. Justifiably, Kashmiris and the Palestinians are demanding a global order that takes seriously the rules of the United Nations Charter — notably on respect for sovereignty and fundamental human rights. As for the Palestinians’ plight, over a half century’s occupation by Israel is actively funded, militarily supported, and legally shielded by the so-called western liberal democracies. Why this is the case in the face of clear international legal and political norms to the contrary — of the UN Charter and the 1949 Geneva Conventions to explicit judicial rulings and UN resolutions, in addition to essential ethical and humanitarian principles. The US accuses Russia of abusing its privileged position as a veto-wielding permanent member of the Security Council. Nonetheless, the US has continually screened Israel from global condemnation and intermittently interrupted international efforts to hold the Israeli government accountable for genocidal crimes under the UN Charter and international law. While the US rebuffs Russian security reservations apropos of NATO expansion in Eastern Europe, the US administrations have time and again defended Israeli atrocities on Palestinians in the name of ‘Israel’s right to defend itself’ when in reality, Israel acts to be a brutal encroacher of the Palestinian territory. The two drastically antipodal narratives are the manifestation of American, NATO, and western countries’ duplicity.
Military occupation is permitted in international law only if it is temporary and based on military necessity, but in the case of Israel’s occupation, there is no end in sight. International law contains clear guidelines on how occupations should work: a territory must be returned to its temporarily displaced sovereign, and the occupying power must be able to justify its continued control over the territory at all times on the basis of military necessity. According to Pakistan, no legal title under International law has passed to India regarding the territory of Jammu & Kashmir, therefore, any attempt to subsume it within its own territory amounts to an act of occupation and illegal annexation. Pakistan’s position of Jammu & Kashmir, being disputed territory and India’s consequent lack of legal title to it, has been recognized by numerous UN Security Council resolutions on the matter. Due to this lack of legal title, India lacks the competence to take any unilateral action altering the status of Jammu & Kashmir from a disputed territory to a part of the Union of India. As for the Israeli case, the basis for this judicial practice is Israel’s formal government-sanctioned policy of recognizing the habitual residence of settlers in the occupied territory, which is contrary to the most fundamental dictates of IHL. As such, Israel’s protection of settler rights in the occupied territory cannot be considered as a lawful basis for justifying the limitations placed on Palestinian rights in the same territory. The Indian and Israeli practices of unlawful appropriation of property by an occupying power amounts to pillage which is prohibited in The Hague Regulations and Fourth Geneva Convention. For the last 75 years, the people of Illegally Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJ&K) have been resisting forced occupation. Arguably enough, to protect the collective right to self-determination of the local population in the occupied territory, occupation law suspends certain decision-making processes placing them in what is called a state of abeyance until the return of the rightful sovereign – in addition to prohibiting the representatives of the local population of the occupied territory from waiving the law’s protections, as reflective in the Israeli-Indian policies of persistent occupation and unlawful annexation. While witnessing such a swift response to the sufferings and human rights violations of Ukrainians, one wonders why the Kashmiri and Palestinian causes have not elicited the same favorable and supportive response from Western governments and media. And yet, those calling for the immediate halt of Russian advancement in Ukraine and deeply concerned about the gross human rights violations and alleged atrocities committed by Russian troops, are mysteriously tight-lipped when asked about the atrocities committed by India in IIOJ&K. For the last 55 years, every day, the state of Palestine has been shrinking, its territory is being encroached by the Israeli government and illegal Jewish settlers, but those, whose eyes flared with anger and outrage over the Russian annexation of Crimea and the recent advances in Ukraine, have been indifferent to brutal Israeli and Indian annexations of the Palestinian and Indian territories. Whereas in both the Israeli and Indian annexation cases, an inescapable truth upholds that, a deep-rooted problem at the heart of these conflicts has not been lack of clarity of international law – in fact, it is quite clear, but the unwillingness of the international community, particularly the western community, to enforce what it has proclaimed.