Palestinians wait for accountability nine years after ICJ opinion against the Wall

ActivismIsrael/Palestine
on 29 Comments

July 9th not only marks the 8th anniversary of the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions, but also the 9th anniversary of the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) Advisory Opinion that found the Israeli construction of the Separation Wall in the occupied territories to be illegal. In that opinion the ICJ called on Israel to 1.) stop the construction of the wall in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem; 2.) dismantle the structure built in the occupied territories; and 3.) make reparations for all damage caused by the wall’s construction.

The BDS call was in fact issued a year to the day of the ICJ opinon as a call for accountibilty in the face of inaction on the court’s recommendations. The official BDS call begins, “One year after the historic Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) which found Israel’s Wall built on occupied Palestinian territory to be illegal; Israel continues its construction of the colonial Wall with total disregard to the Court’s decision.” Nine years later, of course, the Wall continues to stand and Israel continues to evade official accountability.

To mark the anniversary, the UNRWA has published the stories of two Palestinian refugee families impacted by the Wall. UNRWA explains, “These families are both experiencing dispossession and compromised freedom of movement. Their stories highlight the day-to-day impact on Palestinians of Israel’s ongoing refusal to comply with the ICJ ruling.”

From “The International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion on the Wall – Nine Years Later“:

The Nijim family in Qatanna

The Nijim family has lived in their home on the outskirts of the village of Qatanna since 1967. Qatanna is one of the eight Palestinian villages comprising the ‘Biddu enclave’ in the oPt and surrounded to the north, east and west by the Barrier. Following the construction of the Barrier, the Nijim family found itself located on the ‘Israeli side’ of the Barrier, encircled on three sides and isolated from the rest of the village, and living in the “Seam Zone”. The ‘Seam Zone’ refers to West bank territory that is located between the 1949 Armistice Line (or “Green Line”) and the Barrier. Because they live in the Seam Zone, every member of the Nijim family is required to obtain permits from the Israeli authorities in order to reside in their own home.

In 2009, the Israeli authorities built an ‘enclosed,’ gated concrete bridge over the Barrier’s patrol road to allow the family access to the ‘West Bank side’ of the Barrier. Until 2011, the Nijim family held the key to the gate that locked them onto their property. However, that year, without any warning, the authorities replaced the lock with an electronic surveillance system, complete with five video cameras and an intercom system. Now, every entry and exit from the Nijim property is controlled remotely by the Israeli Border Police. On many occasions, the family is stuck waiting for hours for the Border Police to open the gate.

 The isolation of the Nijim family has had significant impact on their daily lives. Because access to their home is prohibited by the Israeli authorities to anyone other than the 18 primary inhabitants, they are not able to celebrate even the most important of events, such as family weddings, in their home. With the holy month of Ramadan approaching, the family will once again be unable to host guests. Furthermore, their ability to come and go depends on the whims of the remote operators of the electronic gate that controls access to their home. In light of the access constraints, when the press team tried to interview the family, it could only do so by phone.

“We will remain here and keep fighting through the difficulties we face until the end,” asserts Mr Nijim when asked how much longer he believes he can live through these restrictions on his family’s movement. “My home has become a group prison for me and my family, but we are not going anywhere.”

The Hajajeh family in Al Walaja

The story of Omar Hajajeh of Al Walaja, a village between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, adds a counterpoint to that of the Nijim family in Qatanna. Mr Hajajeh, his wife and their three children are living in a house located along the route of the Barrier. Once the construction of the Barrier has been completed, the Hajajehs’ house will be completely isolated from Al Walaja. The only access point for the family between their home and the village will be through the tunnel built under the Barrier by the Israeli authorities.

The family has recently been told that a gate will be constructed to allow them access to their home. Mr Hajajeh fears that the introduction of a gate will further diminish his freedom of movement and increase his isolation from his ancestral lands. As with the Nijim family, access to and from the house will be completely in the control of the Israeli authorities. Once the construction of the gate is complete, the family’s guests will have to coordinate their visit with the Israeli authorities some 12 hours in advance of their arrival. Furthermore, no one other than the primary inhabitants of the Hajajeh house will be allowed by the Israeli authorities to stay in their household overnight.

Although construction of the Barrier was halted for several months, work resumed from April 2010 until early 2013 on the eastern, northern and western sides of Al Walaja. The Barrier is now in its final stages of construction.

29 Responses

  1. Cliff
    July 10, 2013, 3:05 pm

    Israel and Jewish colonialism do what they want because they have the US backing them.

    Laws don’t matter. Just what’s good for the Jews.

  2. mondonut
    July 10, 2013, 5:05 pm

    Those are sad stories without a doubt. And yet for some reason the Palestinians believe that the far more difficult task of dividing Jerusalem is a plan.

    • Shingo
      July 14, 2013, 5:35 am

      And yet for some reason the Palestinians believe that the far more difficult task of dividing Jerusalem is a plan.

      only could Mondonut somehow see this brazen act of barbarism by Israel an opportunity to turn this into a narrative about Israeli victimhood.

    • Cliff
      July 14, 2013, 12:51 pm

      Zionists have divided Jerusalem.

      The Palestinians just live where they’ve been living. You and other thieves and liars want it all for yourself.

      • mondonut
        July 15, 2013, 12:29 am

        Cliff says: Zionists have divided Jerusalem.
        ======================================
        Sure they have Cliffy. So in your mind Jerusalem is currently divided in two and what the Palestinians are asking for is to unify the city?

      • Shingo
        July 15, 2013, 1:29 am

        So in your mind Jerusalem is currently divided in two and what the Palestinians are asking for is to unify the city?

        Israel is not prepared to share it

      • Cliff
        July 15, 2013, 7:14 am

        It’s not a matter of opinion, nut.

        It’s a fact that Jewish colonialism has divided Jerusalem in two.

        Now you thieves want the entire city for yourselves.

      • mondonut
        July 15, 2013, 9:19 am

        Shingo says: Israel is not prepared to share it
        ==============================================
        I sure hope not. There is absolutely no reason the city should be divided.

      • mondonut
        July 15, 2013, 9:24 am

        Cliff says: It’s a fact that Jewish colonialism has divided Jerusalem in two.
        ===================================================
        Divided in two? Do you actually believe that East Jerusalem is functioning as a separate city, under different rule, with a border between it and the rest of Jerusalem? Are you serious?

    • talknic
      July 14, 2013, 10:33 pm

      @ mondonut ” some reason the Palestinians believe that the far more difficult task of dividing Jerusalem is a plan”

      Uh? What are you babbling about? Israel’s acquisition of West Jerusalem by war prior to becoming a UN Member divided Jerusalem.

      However, none of the territories Israel acquired by war before becoming a UN Member, incl West Jerusalem; or East Jerusalem after becoming a UN Member, have ever been legally annexed to Israel.

      As a UN Member Israel cannot now legally annex ANY territory it acquired by war unless it is by agreement.

      Israel must plea bargain with the Palestinians.

      • mondonut
        July 15, 2013, 12:32 am

        talknic says: Uh? What are you babbling about?
        ==========================================
        I am babbling about Jerusalem currently not being divided and the Palestinians demanding that it is divided. How more simple can that get?

      • Shingo
        July 15, 2013, 1:29 am

        I am babbling about Jerusalem currently not being divided and the Palestinians demanding that it is divided.

        Of course it’s divided. East Jerusalem does not belong to Israel.

      • Hostage
        July 15, 2013, 2:47 am

        I am babbling about Jerusalem currently not being divided and the Palestinians demanding that it is divided. How more simple can that get?

        Much simpler. The law of conquest had ceased to be a part of international law by the time the UN Charter prohibited threats or the use of force against the political independence and territorial integrity of any state. You Zionists are trying to revive the law of conquest along with a lot of other medieval bullshit.

      • talknic
        July 15, 2013, 5:16 am

        mondonut “I am babbling about Jerusalem currently not being divided

        You sure are babbling. There’s quite a number of problems with your unsubstantiated theory

        A) Jerusalem wasn’t included in the Israeli plea for recognition. link to trumanlibrary.org No one recognized it as Israeli. Not even the Israeli government May 22nd 1948 link to unispal.un.org

        B) corpus separatum was ever instituted. Jerusalem was never legally separated from whatever remained of Palestine after Israel was declared independent of Palestine.

        C) Jerusalem was divided when Israel acquired West Jerusalem by war (yet to be annexed to Israel)

        D) Israel’s unilateral annexation of East Jerusalem was condemned by the UNSC, resolutions 252 (1968) of 21 May 1968, 267 (1969) of 3 July 1969, 271 (1969) of 15 September 1969, 298 (1971) of 25 September 1971, 446 (1979) of 22 March 1979, 452 (1979) 20 July 1979, 465 (1980) of 1 March 1980, 476 June 30 1980 and 478 August 20 1980. It is quite simply NOT Israeli territory

        Contrary to Israel’s propaganda for idiots to perpetuate, Jerusalem is divided

      • mondonut
        July 15, 2013, 9:28 am

        talknic says:
        Contrary to Israel’s propaganda for idiots to perpetuate, Jerusalem is divided
        =================================================
        Jerusalem is currently divided? So you can go there right now and point to the barrier the separates the two Jerusalems?

      • mondonut
        July 15, 2013, 9:33 am

        Hostage says: Much simpler.
        ===================================
        Same question for you as the rest of your hallucinating friends. You can go to Jerusalem today and identify the physical barrier between two Jerusalems, you can identify different rules of law and sovereignty on both sides the supposed barrier, you can find different laws, military, police, fire and municipal services. You will find another Mayor, different national flags and border control between these two Jerusalems?

  3. just
    July 10, 2013, 6:42 pm

    So very much that Zionist Israel does is ‘illegal’ and ‘immoral’.

    They get away with it & thumb their collective noses at the world. I think that the statute of limitations on ‘eternal victim hood’ is long over. For some surreal, unknowable reason it almost seems that they relish creating enemies, instead of making peace, allies and a more just world.

  4. agatharchides
    July 10, 2013, 7:50 pm

    While a moral victory, the ICJ issued no more than an advisory opinion as it has no jurisdiction in the case. And of course it has no ability to force anyone to do anything even if it gives out a ruling unless states decide to act on its behalf, as the Nicaragua case proves. So I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting.

    • Hostage
      July 14, 2013, 8:44 am

      While a moral victory, the ICJ issued no more than an advisory opinion as it has no jurisdiction in the case.

      Correction: Certain advisory opinions are legally binding. That includes any dispute over the interpretation of an international agreement that contains a compromissory clause granting the ICJ jurisdiction. The General Assembly request for the Advisory Opinion cited UN GA resolution 181(II) as one of the relevant UN resolutions and asked what are the legal consequences flowing from the applicable international laws, treaties, and UN resolutions?

      Resolution 181(II) does contain a) an international agreement which placed human rights in Palestine under UN guarantees; and b) granted the ICJ compulsory jurisdiction to settle any disputes, unless the parties agreed to some other method.

      The UN considers the minority rights declarations it has obtained after WWII to be legally binding agreements that are still in force. Resolution 181(II) was cataloged in 1950 as part of a survey of legal instruments containing minority protection treaties E/CN.4/367, Date: 7 April 1950 (see Chapter III The United Nations Charter And The Treaties Concluded After The War, resolution 181(II) of 29 November 1947, “The Future Government of Palestine”, pages 22-23).

      The Advisory Opinion was also endorsed by an Emergency special Session of the General Assembly convened under the auspices of a “Uniting for Peace” resolution. So it’s legally binding on all UN organs and officials.

    • talknic
      July 14, 2013, 10:19 am

      @ agatharchides

      While a moral victory, the ICJ issued no more than an advisory opinion as it has no jurisdiction in the case”

      A) It wasn’t asked to judge a case B) It cannot give an advisory opinion unless it has jurisdiction to give an advisory opinion. It GAVE an advisory opinion.

      It’s opinion was: were it to have been asked to judge the case were it bought before the court, it would not favour Israel because the binding Laws, UN Charter (binding in its entirety on all UN Members) and relevant binding Conventions it cited in its opinion deem Israel’s actions illegal.

      Just because the ICJ only gave an opinion, does not mean those binding Laws, UN Charter and relevant Conventions disappear. They remain and Israel is still in breach of them.

      “And of course it has no ability to force anyone to do anything even if it gives out a ruling unless states decide to act on its behalf”

      There seems to be something inherently EVIL in being an apologist for a state in breach of Laws, a UN Charter and Conventions adopted in large part because of what the F&*^% Nazis did to our Jewish fellows.

      Meanwhile, only the US veto vote in the UNSC protects Israel from the consequences of its illegal actions. All those illegal eggs in the one very expensive to maintain, extremely fragile, slowly fraying and decaying basket.

      • Hostage
        July 14, 2013, 9:00 pm

        Just because the ICJ only gave an opinion, does not mean those binding Laws, UN Charter and relevant Conventions disappear. They remain and Israel is still in breach of them.

        True enough, but I don’t think the ICJ or other Courts, including the ICC, necessarily view a finding of fact by the ICJ that Israel is deliberately violating Article 49(6) of the 4th Geneva Convention that narrowly. It’s sort like saying the police can only issue a warning and can’t arrest you for murder, if they happen to discover the victims body in your car during a routine traffic stop for a bad taillight.

        The ICJ findings of fact regarding population transfer, the denial of access to adequate supplies of food and water, and illegal interference in the exercise of fundamental human rights involve serious offenses, which are subject to the jurisdiction of the ICC and many national-level criminal courts.

        Judge Higgins noted that it really didn’t matter that it was an advisory case or that the situations that had been identified by the ICJ, instead of one of the UN political organs. She explained that the situations created by the government of Israel with respect to the wall, the administrative regime, and the settlements, were illegal. She said that any such finding by a UN organ cannot remain without legal consequences and that all parties had a self-evident obligation to bring the situations to an end. That was NOT merely a non-binding opinion.

        The ICJ opinion itself noted that many of the interested state parties had argued that Israel is under a legal obligation to investigate the facts that had come to light during the hearings and bring the responsible officials to justice.

      • talknic
        July 14, 2013, 11:37 pm

        @ Hostage

        In simple terms it’s my layman understanding that: the outcome of asking the ICJ for an opinion determines the likelihood of a plaintiff’s success in seeking to put a case before either the ICJ or the ICC. In this instance, most certainly.

        It’s ironic that apologists for Israel’s illegal behaviour promote their notion the ICJ only passing an opinion is somehow in their favour, when in fact it doesn’t favour their position at all.

      • Hostage
        July 15, 2013, 12:35 am

        In simple terms it’s my layman understanding that: the outcome of asking the ICJ for an opinion determines the likelihood of a plaintiff’s success in seeking to put a case before either the ICJ or the ICC. In this instance, most certainly.

        I think its a little more than just that. The Court plays the very same role under the terms of its statute in settling disputes over the interpretation of multilateral treaties or its own statute, whether or not the cases before it happen to be advisory or contentious ones.

        For example only States can participate in oral arguments or cases before the ICJ according to its Statute. The fact that Palestine had sufficient standing to participate was highlighted in Judge Higgins opinion, i.e. the ICJ treated Palestine as a State in 2003, long before it filed the declaration with the ICC after Operation Cast Lead.

        At the same time, the jurisdiction of the ICC is strictly limited to “natural persons” by Article 25 of the Rome Statute. So the ICC and other jurists are very likely to read and rely upon the legal analysis of the status of the Palestinian territory contained in the ICJ opinion. That’s one of the reasons ICJ opinions are published and studied in all of the international law reviews.

        The Secretary General’s dossier briefed the Court on Israel’s arguments regarding the non-applicability of the Geneva Conventions and UN Human Rights Conventions to the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories and its continued refusal to respond to the respective treaty monitoring body concerns regarding non-compliance. The advisory opinion dismissed Israel’s objections and its interpretation of those Conventions. The ICC is really in no position to question those determinations, since they are within the scope of the ICJ’s jurisdiction. So the advisory opinion laid down quite a few legal parameters regarding the status of the territory that other Courts are bound to respect.

      • talknic
        July 15, 2013, 1:17 am

        @ Hostage claro thx

  5. talknic
    July 10, 2013, 9:42 pm

    An Israeli apologist will surely be along soon to tell us the ICJ passed a non-binding opinion and Israel can ignore it. Quite true of all opinions. Including the opinions of Israeli apologists.

    However Israel still has a legal obligation to abide by the binding Laws, UN Charter and Conventions the court cited. They don’t disappear just because the ICJ only gave an opinion.

    Likewise UNSC Chapt VI resolutions are in themselves non-binding. However the Laws, UN Charter and relative Conventions re-affirmed, emphasized and otherwise cited in Chapter VI resolutions are binding.

  6. Citizen
    July 10, 2013, 10:05 pm

    This is like a bad dream or fairy tale. The trolls guard the gnarly bridge to the home, let the anxious dwellers there in or out when they feel like it.

  7. Hostage
    July 12, 2013, 4:54 pm

    Palestinians wait for accountability nine years after ICJ opinion against the Wall

    The findings of fact contained in the ICJ Advisory Opinion were incorporated by multiple references in the report of the Arab League that was turned over to the International Criminal Court Prosecutor and in the Goldstone mission report. There’s no doubt that the establishment of Israel settlements are a crime subject to the jurisdiction of the ICC and many of the national courts of its member states.

    For the most part, the Palestinian Solidarity movement hasn’t joined in the efforts to have the ICC Assembly of State Parties vote on the admissibility of Palestine’s 2009 Article 12(3) declaration. The Prosecutor has zero statutory authority to question whether Palestine is a third-party or non-member state in accordance with Articles 12 or 98. Those determinations are entirely up to the member states. There is a larger majority of ICC members that recognize Palestine than the majority in the UN General Assembly.

    • Shingo
      July 12, 2013, 11:07 pm

      There’s no doubt that the establishment of Israel settlements are a crime subject to the jurisdiction of the ICC and many of the national courts of its member states.

      I have heard the argument from the hasbara camp that the ICJ has no jurisdiction because it is only an advisory body. Is that true?

  8. Hostage
    July 14, 2013, 7:52 pm

    I have heard the argument from the hasbara camp that the ICJ has no jurisdiction because it is only an advisory body. Is that true?

    No it is not true. Both the Permanent Court of International Justice and the International Court of Justice have applied principles of contract law and held that resolutions of international organizations are non-binding, except when the parties concerned have agreed to “accept” their terms. See for example Declarations Recognizing the Jurisdiction of the Court as Compulsory link to icj-cij.org

    The Courts have also held that a number of legal instruments, including those containing minority rights agreements and the associated declarations, are international treaties which grant the Court Jurisdiction to settle disputes. See for example the partial list of treaties in force which grant the Court jurisdiction. link to icj-cij.org

    UN resolution 181(II) contains a minority protection plan that was accepted by the State of Israel. It contains a compromissory clause that grants the ICJ compulsory jurisdiction to settle any dispute regarding the fundamental human rights in Palestine that were placed under UN guarantee. Resolution 181(II) was cataloged in 1950 as part of a survey of legal instruments containing minority protection treaties E/CN.4/367, Date: 7 April 1950 (see Chapter III The United Nations Charter And The Treaties Concluded After The War, resolution 181(II) of 29 November 1947, “The Future Government of Palestine”, pages 22-23). Resolution 181(II) is also cited in the “Table of Treaties” in Thomas D. Musgrave, Self-determination and National Minorities, Oxford Monographs in International Law, Oxford University Press, 1997, ISBN 0198298986, Page xxxviii

    During the hearings on Israel’s membership application, the government of Israel formally accepted resolutions 181(II) and 194(III) and provided a declaration for the record regarding Israel’s acceptance of the minority protection plan. The representative of Israel cited a cable from Foreign Minister Shertok to the Secretary General and cited the signed Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel, which had been published in Israel’s national gazette as proof that Israel had submitted the required declaration. See pages 2-3 of the .pdf containing the transcript of the 48th session A/AC.24/SR.48 and the verbatim UN record of the 51st session starting on pdf page 6, A/AC.24/SR.51

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