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4th January Current Affairs

On the legality of Israel’s occupation

(GS-II: International Relations)

In News:

The UNGA passed a resolution (India abstained from the vote) that asked the body’s highest court, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), to render its opinion on the legal consequences of Israel’s prolonged occupation of Palestinian land.

Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land:

A UNGA resolution had sought to partition the British mandate Palestine, which was rejected by the Arabs.

The state of Israel was declared in 1948 → first Arab-Israeli war (1948).

Historically Palestine was divided into the –

  • State of Israel (including West Jerusalem),
  • West Bank (including East Jerusalem) that was taken over by Jordan and
  • Gaza Strip (controlled by Egypt).

Tensions kept rising between Israel and Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, which led to the six-day war of 1967.

The war resulted in Israel capturing the –

  • West Bank,
  • Gaza Strip (Israel withdrew in 2005, however, its external borders are still controlled by Israel and Egypt),
  • East Jerusalem,
  • Syria’s Golan Heights and
  • Sinai Peninsula of Egypt (later returned to Egypt).

Israel also declared the whole of Jerusalem as its “eternal, undivided capital”.

Attempts to restore normalcy:

The UNSC passed a resolution in late 1967 stating that Israel must withdraw from the territories it seized in the war.

However, it is yet to happen and the fate of Palestinian self-determination remains uncertain.

What does the recent resolution seek to do?

It asked the ICJ to advise on the legal consequences of –

  • Israel’s occupation, settlement and annexation.
  • Israel’s measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem.

There are two possibilities – the ICJ can either lead to a settlement between parties or it can lead to a trial followed by a verdict. While its rulings are binding, the ICJ has no power to enforce them.

Conclusion:

The UN resolution coincides with the return of Benjamin Netanyahu as Israel’s Prime Minister for a sixth time. In his words, “Jewish people have an exclusive and unquestionable right to all areas of the Land of Israel.”

There are fears that the new hard-line regime will bring damaging impacts for Palestinians.

Parasnath hill and Shetrunjay hill

In News:

Members of the Jain community have been staging protests across the country for the past two weeks over demands related to two holy sites — Sammed Shikhar on Parasnath hill in Jharkhand and Shetrunjay hill in Palitana of Gujarat.

Sammed Shikharji Temple:

It is believed that 20 out of 24 Tirthankars (Jain spiritual leaders) attained salvation at Sammed Shikharji.

Sammed Shikharji, located on the Parasnath Hills in the Giridih district of Jharkhand, is the biggest pilgrimage of the Jain community.

It is important for both the Digambara and Swethambara sects of Jainism. The hill is known to be the highest mountain in Jharkhand.

The Hill is named after Parasnath (the 23rd Tirthankar)

Shetrunjay hill:

Situated on the banks of the Shetrunji river around 164 feet above sea level, Shetrunjaya Hills near Palitana city are home to 865 Jain temples and are a holy place for Shwetambara Jains.

About the issue:

In Jharkhand, the issue is about Parasnath hill being declared a tourist spot and an eco-sensitive zone, neither the Centre nor the state consulted the main stakeholder

In Gujarat, the row is over the vandalising of a shrine and related security concerns, the Jains are demanding that Shetrunjay hill and the area around it be protected so as to maintain its holiness. They also want further probe into the vandalism case.

e-SCR project

In News:

Electronic Supreme Court Reports (e-SCR) project has been launched to provide the digital version of the SC’s judgements in the manner as they are reported in the official law report ‘Supreme Court Reports’

Details:

The report aims to provide the entire judgement of SC (from inception in 1950 to date)

The eCourts Mission Mode Project is a national eGovernance project for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) enablement of district & subordinate courts of the country. The objective of the project is to provide designated services to litigants, lawyers and the judiciary through ICT enablement of courts.

Virovore

In News:

The first known “virovore”- an organism that eats viruses- has been found.

Key findings:

Two plankton organisms named Halteria and Paramecium, can not only feed on viruses but also thrive by consuming them.

Scientists found that a species of Halteria – which are microscopic ciliates that populate freshwater throughout the world – can eat huge numbers of infectious chloroviruses. Both share an aquatic habitat.

The research also notes the different patterns of consumption between Halteria and Paramecium as the formerly used chlorovirus as a source of nutrients and while the latter did consume the viruses, it did not grow much in population.

Additionally, the consumption of chloroviruses could have a profound impact on the carbon cycle.