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ICJ Opinion: Advisory Opinion on The Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory

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This afternoon, the International Court of Justice delivered their advisory opinion on the Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The majority opinion was unanimously signed by all present Justices. The Court determined that the Emergency Special Session of the General Assembly had acted within its competency in its referral of the question, deemed by the Justices to be one of legal nature, to the International Court of Justice, and thus that the Court had a basis for the establishment of jurisdiction.

Having settled this preliminary dilemma, the Court then turned its attention to the question posed: what are the legal implications of Israel’s construction of the barrier wall? The Court began by affirming the 1949 Green Line as the legitimate and currently-accepted boundary between both entities, determining that the expansion of the wall beyond this line was in violation of existing International Law. 

Upon establishing this, the Court examined the humanitarian concerns brought before it by the Palestinian and Egyptian Advocates. While recognizing that every State has the right to self defense, as argued by the Advocate from Israel, the Court concluded that this right does not supersede International Law, and that the impacts of the construction of this barrier wall, namely including the unauthorized expropriation of Palestinian property, constituted a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Court has suggested that, if Israel is to construct a barrier wall, it must remain squarely within the confines of the 1949 Green Line. The Justices acknowledged that, while Israel has, through various means, come to control areas outside of this boundary, this land still legally belongs to the Palestinian people. The Court suggested a renewed commitment to peaceful regional renegotiation and diplomatic engagement, including a reconsideration of the provisions of the Roadmap to Peace. Above all, the Court stressed that it is critical in all actions to ensure respect for human rights, territorial integrity, the right to self-determination, and the upholding of the legitimacy of International Law.

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