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ICJ calls for rule of law, says Israeli wall breaks international law

BADIL Bulletin on ICJ ruling:
ICJ calls for rule of law, says Israeli wall breaks international law

For Immediate Release

No. (E/28/04) 13 July 2004

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The International Court of Justice (ICJ) says that Israel is breaching international law by continuing to build its wall in occupied Palestinian territory.

 

Under the ruling, Israel must comply specifically with its international obligations to

respect the right of Palestinian people to self determination;

end building the wall, including in an around eastern Jerusalem;

dismantle the wall in the occupied territories and eastern Jerusalem and compensate for damage caused; and

return the land, orchards, olive groves, etc. seized to build the wall or provide compensation to Palestinians if restitution is not possible.

 

The ICJ also said that other states should neither recognize the illegal wall nor provide aid or assistance to maintain the circumstances created by its construction. It also called on the United Nations, especially the General Assembly and Security Council, to consider what further action was needed to end the illegal situation caused by the wall’s construction.

 

The court went on to call for the rule of law, saying that international humanitarian and human rights law apply to the Occupied Territories of West Bank and Gaza Strip. The ICJ said that the General Assembly has the right to act on the matter since there is a threat to international peace and security and since the Security Council has been unable to deal with the matter due to the repeated vetoes by one permanent security council member, the United States.

 

For a more complete discussion of the ICJ advisory opinion, see

BADIL Bulletin No. 20 on BADIL’s web site www.badil.org.

 

Earlier the Israeli High Court ruled that the injury to the Palestinians in building the wall was not proportionate to the security interests of Israel. The Israeli Court asked that some sections of wall be removed and other sections rerouted. It also said that the lives of tens of thousands of Palestinians are harmed by the wall in their daily life as they were cut off from thousands of dunums of land, educational opportunities, health care and even families.

 

ICJ wants wall dismantled

 

The ICJ recognized that the wall caused injury to thousands of Palestinians, going further than the Israeli High Court asking for the dismantling of the wall in the Occupied Territories and eastern Jerusalem. Although Israel says the wall is temporary, it in effect redraws the boundaries from the 1948 armistice line (Green Line), the generally accepted border of Israel with Palestine into a permanent boundary.

 

The issue now can be taken to the United Nations General Assembly for debate on concrete measures to be taken based on the ICJ ruling, including sanctions. Israel expects defeat in the General Assembly and the PLO has called for a special Assembly session. After that, it is up to the Security Council to debate the issue. Israel has asked the European Community to support its case and expects a U.S. veto on any resolution that Israel considers goes against its cause. If so, this will bring to more than 50 times the United States has vetoed resolutions on Israel, many supported by the majority of Council members.

 

The ICJ has dealt with more than 79 issues and given 22 advisory opinions since it was established in 1946, from maritime and fisheries disagreements between Canada and Spain to border disputes in Central America and Africa. While the opinions are not binding, they have become part of international law. The opinion in 1971, for example, demanded action against South Africa and eventually led to international sanctions on South Africa and freedom for Namibia. A synopsis of the ICJ’s verdict in that case is included in BADIL Bulletin.

 

BADIL takes a rights-based approach to the Palestinian question and considers that ICJ advisory opinions are one of the tools for establishing the rule of law.