By Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza, Reporter

THE PHILIPPINES has joined 144 nations in favoring a United Nations (UN) General Assembly resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory including East Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan.

The resolution, passed on Nov. 9, came after a UN committee held a hearing on “Israeli practices and settlement activities affecting the rights of the Palestinian people and other Arabs of the occupied territories.”

The US, a major security ally of the Philippines, along with six other countries including Israel, Canada, and Hungary rejected the resolution. Eighteen countries abstained.

“The Philippine vote represents a position that is consistent with our efforts of forwarding people-centric solutions in the face of critical humanitarian atrocities,” Don Mclain Gill, an international studies lecturer at De La Salle University in Manila, said in a Facebook Messenger chat.

The UN resolution cited an International Court of Justice decision saying that Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory have been “established in breach of international law.”

Israeli settlement activities involved the transfer of its nationals “into the occupied territories, the confiscation of land, the forced transfer of Palestinian civilians including Bedouin families,” according to the resolution.

The settlements also involved “the exploitation of natural resources, the fragmentation of territory and other actions against the Palestinian civilian population.”

There were Israeli actions against the civilian population in the occupied Syrian Golan that violated international law, it added.

The resolution urged UN bodies to take necessary measures regarding Israeli settlements and asked UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to issue a report on the resolution at the next session.

The Philippines abstained from voting in an earlier General Assembly resolution that called for a humanitarian pause in Gaza, which has been bombarded by Israel after a surprise attack by Hamas militants that killed 1,400 Israelis on Oct. 7.

The Gaza Strip is one of the two territories occupied by Palestinians, the other being the West Bank. The two areas, along with East Jerusalem, came under Israeli occupation after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

The UN resolution is a “strong statement” that aims to advance the immediate cessation and further escalation of violence in the region and pushes for a “two-state” resolution, said Arjan P. Aguirre, who teaches political science at the Ateneo de Manila University.

“The only challenge here is that this international instrumentality has always been ignored and defied by powerful stakeholders and state actors who are for the status quo,” he said via Messenger chat. “This is not the first time that the UN and other Intergovernmental organizations have called for a peaceful and just resolution to the ongoing occupation and conflict in the region.”

Chester B. Cabalza, founder of Manila-based International Development and Security Cooperation, said the Philippines “should think well on how to play its card.” He urged the government of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. to “vote based on its strategic interests.”