International law and the Arab-Israeli conflict

International law and the Arab-Israeli conflict

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There is a broad international consensus that the actions of the nations involved in the Arab-Israeli conflict violate prohibitions contained in international law
International law
Public international law concerns the structure and conduct of sovereign states; analogous entities, such as the Holy See; and intergovernmental organizations. To a lesser degree, international law also may affect multinational corporations and individuals, an impact increasingly evolving beyond...

. However, this legality is disputed by some of the nations involved. Both the basis for international law and disagreement over its applicability in the case of the Arab-Israeli conflict is discussed below.

The conflict goes back to before the 1948 Arab-Israeli war
1948 Arab-Israeli War
The 1948 Arab–Israeli War, known to Israelis as the War of Independence or War of Liberation The war commenced after the termination of the British Mandate for Palestine and the creation of an independent Israel at midnight on 14 May 1948 when, following a period of civil war, Arab armies invaded...

 and the founding of Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 (see History of the Arab-Israeli conflict
History of the Arab-Israeli conflict
The Arab–Israeli conflict is a modern phenomenon, which has its roots in the end of the 19th century. The conflict became a major international issue with the birth of Israel in 1948. The Arab-Israeli conflict has resulted in at least five major wars and a number of minor conflicts...

).

As a result of the Six-Day War
Six-Day War
The Six-Day War , also known as the June War, 1967 Arab-Israeli War, or Third Arab-Israeli War, was fought between June 5 and 10, 1967, by Israel and the neighboring states of Egypt , Jordan, and Syria...

 in 1967, Israel came to occupy large swaths of land once belonging to neighboring Egypt, Syria and Jordan. Following the peace treaties between Israel and Egypt
Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty
The 1979 Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty was signed in Washington, D.C. on the 26th of March 1979, following the 1978 Camp David Accords, which were signed by Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, and were witnessed by United States President Jimmy Carter.The peace...

 and Israel and Jordan, the conflict today largely revolves around Palestinian
State of Palestine
Palestine , officially declared as the State of Palestine , is a state that was proclaimed in exile in Algiers on 15 November 1988, when the Palestine Liberation Organization's National Council adopted the unilateral Palestinian Declaration of Independence...

 statehood.

The main points of dispute (also known as the "core issues" or "final status issues") are the following:
  • the legality or otherwise of the Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories, and their annexation
    Annexation
    Annexation is the de jure incorporation of some territory into another geo-political entity . Usually, it is implied that the territory and population being annexed is the smaller, more peripheral, and weaker of the two merging entities, barring physical size...

     of East Jerusalem
    East Jerusalem
    East Jerusalem or Eastern Jerusalem refer to the parts of Jerusalem captured and annexed by Jordan in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and then captured and annexed by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War...

     and the Israeli West Bank barrier
    Israeli West Bank barrier
    The Israeli West Bank barrier is a separation barrier being constructed by the State of Israel along and within the West Bank. Upon completion, the barrier’s total length will be approximately...

    ;
  • how legal borders should be decided between Israel and a Palestinian state
    Proposals for a Palestinian state
    Proposals for a Palestinian state currently refers to the proposed establishment of an independent state for the Palestinian people in Palestine on land that was occupied by Israel since the Six-Day War of 1967 and before by Egypt and by Jordan since 1949...

    ;
  • the legal status of the Palestinian refugees from the 1948 Arab-Israeli war and subsequently.


The United Nations General Assembly
United Nations General Assembly
For two articles dealing with membership in the General Assembly, see:* General Assembly members* General Assembly observersThe United Nations General Assembly is one of the five principal organs of the United Nations and the only one in which all member nations have equal representation...

 has voted on a resolution
United Nations General Assembly Resolution
A United Nations General Assembly Resolution is voted on by all member states of the United Nations in the General Assembly.General Assembly resolutions usually require a simple majority to pass...

 bearing on issues of international law as applied to the conflict every year since 1974. The most recent vote was held on November 30, 2010. The resolution entitled "Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine" was adopted by a recorded vote of 165 in favor to 7 against with 4 abstentions.

Customary international law


Unlike a treaty agreement
Treaty
A treaty is an express agreement under international law entered into by actors in international law, namely sovereign states and international organizations. A treaty may also be known as an agreement, protocol, covenant, convention or exchange of letters, among other terms...

, customary international law is usually not written. Customs of a longstanding nature can be codified by formal treaties. The Laws and Customs of War on Land (Hague IV) of 18 October 1907 and the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 are examples of conventional laws that are declarations of customary law. To prove that a certain rule is customary one has to show that it is reflected in state practice and that there exists a conviction in the international community that such practice is required as a matter of law. In this context, "practice" relates to official state practice and therefore includes formal statements by states. A contrary practice by some states is possible because if this contrary practice is condemned by the other states, or subsequently denied by the government itself, the original rule is actually confirmed.

In accordance with article 13 of the UN Charter, the General Assembly is obligated to initiate studies and to make recommendations that encourage the progressive development of international law and its codification. Acting in that agreed-upon treaty capacity, the General Assembly affirmed the principles of international law that were recognized by the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal and directed that they should be codified. Many of those same principles were subsequently adopted for inclusion in draft treaties that were under development by the International Law Commission of the United Nations. They were also incorporated through the agreement of the High Contracting Parties into the Geneva Conventions of 1949. In 1993 the UN Security Council "acting under Chapter VII of the Charter on the United Nations" establish an international tribunal and approved a Statute that had been recommended in a report submitted by the Secretary General. It concluded beyond doubt that the law applicable in armed conflict as embodied in the Geneva Conventions
Geneva Conventions
The Geneva Conventions comprise four treaties, and three additional protocols, that establish the standards of international law for the humanitarian treatment of the victims of war...

 of 12 August 1949 and the Hague Convention (IV) of 18 October 1907
Hague Conventions (1899 and 1907)
The Hague Conventions were two international treaties negotiated at international peace conferences at The Hague in the Netherlands: The First Hague Conference in 1899 and the Second Hague Conference in 1907...

 had become part of international customary law, and should be part of the subject matter jurisdiction of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
The International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia since 1991, more commonly referred to as the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia or ICTY, is a...

. In 1998, the United Nations Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries approved the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court
Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court
The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court is the treaty that established the International Criminal Court . It was adopted at a diplomatic conference in Rome on 17 July 1998 and it entered into force on 1 July 2002. As of 13 October 2011, 119 states are party to the statute...

. The offenses against unwritten customary international law were amenable to prosecution by international tribunals, like the Nuremberg Tribunal, long before they were codified and incorporated into the subsequent treaties.

Forms of evidence


In 1950, the International Law Commission listed the following sources as forms of evidence to customary international law: treaties, decisions of national and international courts, national legislation, opinions of national legal advisors, diplomatic correspondence, and practice of international organizations.

Conventions, resolutions and declarations


Many provisions of international law are based upon principles and norms that were developed in the Americas during the 19th century. They include the principle of uti possidetis of 1810 and the related Monroe Doctrine
Monroe Doctrine
The Monroe Doctrine is a policy of the United States introduced on December 2, 1823. It stated that further efforts by European nations to colonize land or interfere with states in North or South America would be viewed as acts of aggression requiring U.S. intervention...

 of 1823, regarding non-colonization and non-intervention. In 1890, the First International Conference of American States adopted a proscription against territorial conquest and agreed upon the non-recognition of all acquisitions made by force.
Those principles and regional understandings were recognized in Article 21 of the Covenant of the League of Nations. The system of mandates contained in article 22 of the Covenant was based in part upon those normative declarations and state practices. The Kellogg-Briand Pact
Kellogg-Briand Pact
The Kellogg–Briand Pact was an agreement signed on August 27, 1928, by the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Japan, Weimar Germany and a number of other countries.The pact renounced war , prohibiting the use of war...

 of 1928, and the League of Nations approval of the Stimson Doctrine
Stimson Doctrine
The Stimson Doctrine is a policy of the United States federal government, enunciated in a note of January 7, 1932, to Japan and China, of non-recognition of international territorial changes that were executed by force. The doctrine was an application of the principle of ex injuria jus non oritur...

 in 1931 were efforts designed to end the practice of coercive territorial revisionism through international law.

After World War II, the principles of international law that upheld the territorial integrity of states were incorporated in the Charter of the United Nations, and subsequently reaffirmed in the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples
Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples
The Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples was a milestone in the process of decolonization. Also known as the United Nations Resolution 1514, it was adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 14, 1960....

, the Organization of African Unity charter respecting the integrity of inherited boundaries, and the 1975 CSCE Helsinki Final Act which contained a proscription that boundaries could only be altered by consent. The Chapter on Fundamental Rights and Duties of States in the Charter of the Organization of American States provides that:
The territory of a State is inviolable; it may not be the object, even temporarily, of military occupation or of other measures of force taken by another State, directly or indirectly, on any grounds whatever. No territorial acquisitions or special advantages obtained either by force or by other means of coercion shall be recognized.

Legal issues related to sovereignty


In their relations with other peoples and countries during the colonial era the Concert of Europe adopted a fundamental legal principle that the supreme legal authority, or sovereignty, lay outside the indigenous nations. That legal principle resulted in the creation of a large number of dependent states with restricted sovereignty or colonial autonomy. Various terms were used to describe different types of dependent states, such as condominium, mandate, protectorate, colony, and vassal state. After World War II there was strong international pressure to eliminate dependencies associated with colonialism.

The vast majority of the world's sovereign
Sovereignty
Sovereignty is the quality of having supreme, independent authority over a geographic area, such as a territory. It can be found in a power to rule and make law that rests on a political fact for which no purely legal explanation can be provided...

 states resulted from the grant of independence to colonial peoples and dependent territories. Prior to World War II many states were formed as a result of war
War
War is a state of organized, armed, and often prolonged conflict carried on between states, nations, or other parties typified by extreme aggression, social disruption, and usually high mortality. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political...

s that were resolved through peace treaties
Peace treaty
A peace treaty is an agreement between two or more hostile parties, usually countries or governments, that formally ends a state of war between the parties...

. Some of these peace treaties were imposed on the losing side in a war; others came about as a result of negotiations that followed wars, or were entered into under the threat of war. In these cases, the applicable law was bound in peace treaties among the states. The practice of territorial aggrandizement was prohibited by the UN Charter, a multilateral treaty, and the authoritative explanation of its legal principles contained in UN General Assembly resolution 2625 (XXV) of 24 October 1970, Declaration of Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation Among States in Accordance with the Charter of the United Nations. The purpose of the United Nations is the prevention and removal of threats to peace and the suppression of acts of aggression. The Charter requires that members shall refrain from the threat of, or use of force. According to communis opinio the obligations imposed by those provisions of the Charter have become part of customary international law and are binding on all States, whether they are members of the United Nations or not.

Treaties and resolutions


The communities and Holy Places of Palestine have been under the express protection of international law since the early 19th century. For example, the International Court of Justice advisory opinion noted that access to the Christian, Jewish and Islamic Holy Places had been protected by various laws dating back to the early Ottoman Empire, with the latest provisions having been incorporated into the UN Partition Plan, article 13 of the League of Nations Mandate, and Article 62 of the Treaty of Berlin of 13 July 1878.

The Treaty of Paris in 1814, called for a congress of the Great Powers of Europe to settle the future boundaries of the continent. Nearly every state in Europe was represented. A prohibition on unilateral annexation was adopted. It bolstered the concept of territorial integrity which was enshrined in the Congress of Vienna in 1815.

The 1856 Treaty of Paris declared that the Sublime Porte, the government of the Ottoman Empire, had been admitted to participate in the Public Law and System (Concert) of Europe. The European system of public law governed territorial accessions and the creation of new states. After the Russo-Turkish Wars in 1878, Russia and the Ottoman Empire concluded the Treaty of San Stefano. Because it modified the terms of the Treaty of Paris of 1856, the other signatories called for a Congress to obtain its revision. The Treaty of Berlin of 1878 was the result. Montenegro, Serbia, and Romania were recognized as new independent states and granted specific territory on condition that religious, political, and property rights of minorities were guaranteed on a nondiscriminatory basis. The delegates of the First Zionist Congress
First Zionist Congress
The First Zionist Congress was the inaugural congress of the Zionist Organization held in Basel , Switzerland, from August 29 to August 31, 1897. It was convened and chaired by Theodor Herzl, the founder of the modern Zionism movement...

 acknowledged these customary diplomatic precedents in the Basle Program. It stated that the aim of Zionism was the creation of a home for the Jewish people in Palestine, secured by public law.

During the course of the British mandate in Palestine, the British government sought to reconcile the two claims in different ways. A number of proposals and declarations were put forward, all of which were rejected by one party or the other, and usually both. Again, two different interpretations apply:
  • The Israeli perspective is that the United Kingdom
    United Kingdom
    The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

     only had the mandate to propose solutions in keeping with the resolutions adopted at the San Remo Conference
    San Remo conference
    The San Remo Conference was an international meeting of the post-World War I Allied Supreme Council, held in Sanremo, Italy, from 19 to 26 April 1920. It was attended by the four Principal Allied Powers of World War I who were represented by the prime ministers of Britain , France and Italy and...

    , not to amend them. Proposals that were offered but rejected by either or both of the parties had no legal authority. In other words, that the relevant resolutions adopted at the San Remo Conference are the public law that awarded the Jewish people de jure sovereignty over Palestine.
  • The Arab perspective views British proposals as promises (subsequently broken) to the people of Palestine, see also the Hussein-McMahon Correspondence
    Hussein-McMahon Correspondence
    The McMahon–Hussein Correspondence, or the Hussein-McMahon Correspondence, was a protracted exchange of letters during World War I, between the Sharif of Mecca, Husayn bin Ali, and Sir Henry McMahon, British High Commissioner in Egypt, concerning the future political status of the lands under the...

    .


After World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, the British government decided to abandon its mandate in Palestine. A United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 Commission (UNSCOP) was assigned to recommend a solution to the conflict to the General Assembly
United Nations General Assembly
For two articles dealing with membership in the General Assembly, see:* General Assembly members* General Assembly observersThe United Nations General Assembly is one of the five principal organs of the United Nations and the only one in which all member nations have equal representation...

. The recommendation was a partition plan
1947 UN Partition Plan
The United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine was created by the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine in 1947 to replace the British Mandate for Palestine with "Independent Arab and Jewish States" and a "Special International Regime for the City of Jerusalem" administered by the United...

 that would result in an Arab and a Jewish state in the remaining mandate, and Jerusalem under UN rule, was approved by the General Assembly.

However, the resolution served partially as a basis for the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel
Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel
The Israeli Declaration of Independence , made on 14 May 1948 , the day before the British Mandate was due to expire, was the announcement by David Ben-Gurion, the Executive Head of the World Zionist Organization and chairman of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, that the new Jewish state named the...

to take effect when Great Britain's mandate expired. Many states granted the State of Israel either de facto
De facto
De facto is a Latin expression that means "concerning fact." In law, it often means "in practice but not necessarily ordained by law" or "in practice or actuality, but not officially established." It is commonly used in contrast to de jure when referring to matters of law, governance, or...

or de jure
De jure
De jure is an expression that means "concerning law", as contrasted with de facto, which means "concerning fact".De jure = 'Legally', De facto = 'In fact'....

recognition. Israel was accepted as a sovereign member state in the United Nations and has diplomatic relations
Foreign relations of Israel
The foreign relations of Israel refers to diplomatic relations and international agreements between the State of Israel and other countries around the world. Israel joined the United Nations on May 11, 1949. Israel has diplomatic relations with 157 states...

 with many, but not all, sovereign states.

The legal consequence of subsequent events


Several events have affected the legal issues related to the conflict:
  • After the war in 1948, the mandate ended up being split between Israel, Egypt
    Egypt
    Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

     and Jordan. Israel and Jordan annexed
    Rule of the West Bank and East Jerusalem by Jordan
    The West Bank and East Jerusalem were occupied by Jordan for a period of nearly two decades starting from the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. In 1950, the British extended formal recognition to the union between the Hashemite Kingdom and of that part of Palestine under Jordanian occupation and control -...

     all areas under their administration; Egypt maintained a military occupation of Gaza
    Occupation of the Gaza Strip by Egypt
    The administration of the Gaza Strip by Egypt occurred between 1948 and October 1956, and again from March 1957 to June 1967. Egypt did not annex the Gaza Strip but left it under Egyptian military rule as a temporary arrangement pending the resolution of the Palestine Question.-Background:After...

    . The United Nations did not assert its authority of Jerusalem, and the city ended up being split between Israel and Jordan.
  • Although there were numerous informal and backchannel communications between Israel and Arab states through the years, all Arab states refused to accept Israel's sovereignty until 1979, and most (excluding Jordan, Mauritania
    Mauritania
    Mauritania is a country in the Maghreb and West Africa. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean in the west, by Western Sahara in the north, by Algeria in the northeast, by Mali in the east and southeast, and by Senegal in the southwest...

    , and Egypt) persisted in rejecting Israel's desire to exist (see Khartoum Resolution
    Khartoum Resolution
    The Khartoum Resolution of September 1, 1967 was issued at the conclusion of an Arab League summit in the wake of the Six-Day War. The resolution, which formed a basis of the policies of these governments toward Israel until the 1973 Yom Kippur War, called for: a continued state of belligerency...

    ) until the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative
    Arab Peace Initiative
    The Beirut Summit was a meeting of the Arab League in Beirut, Lebanon in March 2002 to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The meeting became especially noteworthy for the adoption, by the Arab states attending, of a proposal offering a comprehensive peace between the Arab countries and...

     that offers Israel peace and normal relations with all Arab countries if Israel withdraws from all areas occupied in the 1967 war and "attain a just solution" to the Palestinian refugee
    Palestinian refugee
    Palestinian refugees or Palestine refugees are the people and their descendants, predominantly Palestinian Arabic-speakers, who fled or were expelled from their homes during and after the 1948 Palestine War, within that part of the British Mandate of Palestine, that after that war became the...

     problem "to be agreed upon in accordance with the UN General Assembly Resolution 194".
  • The war in 1967
    Six-Day War
    The Six-Day War , also known as the June War, 1967 Arab-Israeli War, or Third Arab-Israeli War, was fought between June 5 and 10, 1967, by Israel and the neighboring states of Egypt , Jordan, and Syria...

     brought all remaining parts of the Mandate (as defined by Great Britain in 1947) as well as parts of the Golan Heights under Israeli administration. Israel subsequently annexed East Jerusalem
    East Jerusalem
    East Jerusalem or Eastern Jerusalem refer to the parts of Jerusalem captured and annexed by Jordan in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and then captured and annexed by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War...

    , asserting that the West Bank and Gaza were "disputed territories".
  • Both as a result of the wars in 1948 and 1967, Arab residents of the former Mandate were displaced and classified by the United Nations as "refugees
    Palestinian refugee
    Palestinian refugees or Palestine refugees are the people and their descendants, predominantly Palestinian Arabic-speakers, who fled or were expelled from their homes during and after the 1948 Palestine War, within that part of the British Mandate of Palestine, that after that war became the...

    "
  • In approximately the same time frame, most Jews in Arab states fled or were forced to leave, with most of them absorbed by Israel.
  • United Nations Security Council issued resolution 242 that set the framework for a resolution through "land for peace
    Land for peace
    Land for peace is an interpretation of UN Security Council Resolution 242 which has formed the basis of subsequent Arab-Israeli peace making. The name Land for Peace is derived from the wording of the resolution's first operative paragraph which affirms that peace should include the application of...

    ".
  • In 1979, Egypt and Israel signed a peace treaty
    Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty
    The 1979 Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty was signed in Washington, D.C. on the 26th of March 1979, following the 1978 Camp David Accords, which were signed by Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, and were witnessed by United States President Jimmy Carter.The peace...

    , agreeing on international borders between the two states, but leaving the disposition of Gaza for peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
  • In 1988, the PLO declared "the establishment of the State of Palestine in the land of Palestine with its capital at Jerusalem."
  • In 1993, the PLO and Israel signed a declaration of principles
    Oslo Accords
    The Oslo Accords, officially called the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements or Declaration of Principles , was an attempt to resolve the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict...

     that included mutual recognition and the ultimate goal of establishing self rule for the Palestinian people.
  • In 1994, Jordan and Israel also signed a peace treaty
    Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace
    The Israel–Jordan Treaty of Peace was signed in 1994. The treaty normalized relations between the two countries and resolved territorial disputes. The conflict had cost roughly US$18.3 billion...

    .
  • No other Arab state has granted legal recognition of Israel's sovereignty. A formal state of war still exists between Israel and several Arab states, though armistice agreements
    1949 Armistice Agreements
    The 1949 Armistice Agreements are a set of agreements signed during 1949 between Israel and neighboring Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria. The agreements ended the official hostilities of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, and established armistice lines between Israeli forces and the forces in...

     govern interaction between the states.
  • Several attempts at finalizing the terms for a peace agreement between Israel and the PLO have failed. In 2006 the Palestinians elected Hamas
    Hamas
    Hamas is the Palestinian Sunni Islamic or Islamist political party that governs the Gaza Strip. Hamas also has a military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades...

     into power, a party that does not recognize Israel as legitimate.

Legal issues related to the wars


Sovereign state
Sovereign state
A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

s have the right to defend themselves against overt external aggression, in the form of an invasion or other attack. A number of states assert that this principle extends to the right to launch military actions to reduce a threat, protect vital interests, or pre-empt a possible attack or emerging threat.

Wars between Israel and Arab states


Security Council resolution 242, emphasized "the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war," setting the stage for controversy on the legal status of areas captured in 1967, and in 1948.

There are two interpretations of this matter:
  • The Israeli position is that:
    • The wars in 1956
      Suez Crisis
      The Suez Crisis, also referred to as the Tripartite Aggression, Suez War was an offensive war fought by France, the United Kingdom, and Israel against Egypt beginning on 29 October 1956. Less than a day after Israel invaded Egypt, Britain and France issued a joint ultimatum to Egypt and Israel,...

       and 1967
      Six-Day War
      The Six-Day War , also known as the June War, 1967 Arab-Israeli War, or Third Arab-Israeli War, was fought between June 5 and 10, 1967, by Israel and the neighboring states of Egypt , Jordan, and Syria...

       were waged by Israel to ensure the state's survival. As most hostilities were initiated by the Arab side, Israel had to fight and win these wars in order to ensure the state's sovereignty and safety. Territories captured in the course of those wars are therefore legitimately under Israeli administration for both security reasons and to deter hostile states from belligerence.
    • In the absence of peace treaties between all the parties at war, Israel has under all circumstances the right to maintain control of the captured territories. Their ultimate disposition should be a result of peace treaties, and not a condition for them. Even so, Israel asserts that:
      • The 1956 war
        Suez Crisis
        The Suez Crisis, also referred to as the Tripartite Aggression, Suez War was an offensive war fought by France, the United Kingdom, and Israel against Egypt beginning on 29 October 1956. Less than a day after Israel invaded Egypt, Britain and France issued a joint ultimatum to Egypt and Israel,...

         was caused by a pattern of Egyptian belligerence against Israel, culminating with the nationalization of the Suez Canal
        Suez Canal
        The Suez Canal , also known by the nickname "The Highway to India", is an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Opened in November 1869 after 10 years of construction work, it allows water transportation between Europe and Asia without navigation...

         and the blockage of the canal for Israeli traffic in violation of the Convention of Constantinople
        Convention of Constantinople
        The Convention of Constantinople was a treaty signed by the United Kingdom, Germany, Austro-Hungary, Spain, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia and the Ottoman Empire on October 29, 1888. In the 1880s Britain had recently acquired physical control over the Suez Canal and Egypt...

         and other relevant treaties, in their view a clear casus belli (i.e., an act justifying war)
      • The 1967 war
        Six-Day War
        The Six-Day War , also known as the June War, 1967 Arab-Israeli War, or Third Arab-Israeli War, was fought between June 5 and 10, 1967, by Israel and the neighboring states of Egypt , Jordan, and Syria...

         was similarly caused by the closing of the Straits of Tiran
        Straits of Tiran
        The Straits of Tiran , are the narrow sea passages, about wide, between the Sinai and Arabian peninsulas which separate the Gulf of Aqaba from the Red Sea...

        , the rejection of UN forces in the Sinai desert, and the redeployment of Egyptian forces. Jordan and Syria entered the war in spite of Israeli efforts to keep these frontiers peaceful.
      • The 1973 war
        Yom Kippur War
        The Yom Kippur War, Ramadan War or October War , also known as the 1973 Arab-Israeli War and the Fourth Arab-Israeli War, was fought from October 6 to 25, 1973, between Israel and a coalition of Arab states led by Egypt and Syria...

         was a surprise attack against Israel by Syria and Egypt.
  • The Arab position is that:
    • The 1956 war, came after an Israeli attack on the Gaza strip killing 25 Egyptian soldiers, and was a result of a conspiracy between France, the United Kingdom and Israel in violation of Egypt's sovereignty. Egypt claimed several legal justifications for refusing Israel use of the Suez Canal, including the right of self-defence.
    • The war in 1967 was an unprovoked act of aggression aimed at expanding the boundaries of Israel, and the territories captured during this war are illegally occupied.
    • As a result, the territories must be ceded in order for peace to be achieved.

As noted above, Israel, Egypt, and Jordan have resolved this impasse and have recognized international borders between these states. The dispute has now shifted to the conflict between the Palestinians and Israel.

Legal issues related to occupation


The Geneva Conventions and other international tractates recognize that land a) conquered in the course of a war; and b) the disposition of which is unresolved through subsequent peace treaties is "occupied" and subject to international laws of war and international humanitarian law. This includes special protection of individuals in those territories, limitations on the use of land in those territories, and access by international relief agencies.

Jerusalem


Recognizing the controversial nature of sovereignty over Jerusalem, UNSCOP recommended that the city be placed under United Nations administration in the partition plan. This was approved by the General Assembly in November, 1947, accepted by the Jews and rejected by the Arabs. However, the 1948-1949 war resulted in Israel occupying the western portion of the city. Israel made Jerusalem its capital in 1950, establishing governmental offices in areas it controlled. Soon afterwards in 1950 Jordan annexed the eastern part along with the remainder of the West Bank.

After the 1967 war, Israel put the parts of Jerusalem that had been captured during the war under its jurisdiction and civilian administration, establishing new municipal borders. Arguing that this did not amount to annexation at the time, subsequent legal actions have been interpreted as consistent with an annexation.

On July 30, 1980, the Knesset
Knesset
The Knesset is the unicameral legislature of Israel, located in Givat Ram, Jerusalem.-Role in Israeli Government :The legislative branch of the Israeli government, the Knesset passes all laws, elects the President and Prime Minister , approves the cabinet, and supervises the work of the government...

 passed a basic law making "Jerusalem, complete and united…the capital of Israel." Since then Israel has extended the municipal boundaries several times.

On October 6, 2002, Yasser Arafat
Yasser Arafat
Mohammed Yasser Abdel Rahman Abdel Raouf Arafat al-Qudwa al-Husseini , popularly known as Yasser Arafat or by his kunya Abu Ammar , was a Palestinian leader and a Laureate of the Nobel Prize. He was Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization , President of the Palestinian National Authority...

 signed the Palestinian Legislative Council
Palestinian Legislative Council
The Palestinian Legislative Council, the legislature of the Palestinian Authority, is a unicameral body with 132 members, elected from 16 electoral districts in the West Bank and Gaza...

's law making Al Quds "the eternal capital of Palestine."

International bodies such as the United Nations have condemned Israel's Basic Law concerning Jerusalem as a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention
Fourth Geneva Convention
The Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, commonly referred to as the Fourth Geneva Convention and abbreviated as GCIV, is one of the four treaties of the Geneva Conventions. It was adopted in August 1949, and defines humanitarian protections for civilians...

 and therefore hold that the establishment of the city as Israel's capital is against international law. Consequently, countries have established embassies to Israel's government outside of Jerusalem. Similarly, missions to the Palestinian National Authority
Palestinian National Authority
The Palestinian Authority is the administrative organization established to govern parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip...

 are at the insistence of Israel's government located outside of Jerusalem.

Israel has filed strenuous protests http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/jerusalem%20capital%20of%20israel/ against this policy, asserting that:
  • There is no basis in international law for denying Israel's establishing its capital in Jerusalem, because there is no binding treaty that makes the city a Corpus separatum
    Corpus separatum
    Corpus separatum is used with regard to Jerusalem according to the 1947 UN Partition Plan which used it to refer to a proposed internationally administered zone to include Jerusalem in the 1947 municipal boundaries "plus surrounding villages and towns, the most eastern of which shall be Abu Dis;...

    .
  • The 1980 Basic Law is not a legal innovation and only affirms Israel's long-standing position on Jerusalem.
  • Israel has the sovereign right to establish its capital at the most meaningful place for its people, and its claim is unique.
  • Objections to Jerusalem as Israel's capital are political in nature, and not legal.


In its 2004 advisory opinion on the legality of the Israeli West Bank barrier
Israeli West Bank barrier
The Israeli West Bank barrier is a separation barrier being constructed by the State of Israel along and within the West Bank. Upon completion, the barrier’s total length will be approximately...

, the International Court of Justice
International Court of Justice
The International Court of Justice is the primary judicial organ of the United Nations. It is based in the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands...

 concluded that the lands captured by Israel in the 1967 war, including East Jerusalem, are occupied territory.

Settlement in territories



See related articles Israeli settlement
Israeli settlement
An Israeli settlement is a Jewish civilian community built on land that was captured by Israel from Jordan, Egypt, and Syria during the 1967 Six-Day War and is considered occupied territory by the international community. Such settlements currently exist in the West Bank...

 and International law and Israeli settlements
International law and Israeli settlements
The international community considers the establishment of Israeli settlements in the Israeli-occupied territories illegal under international law, but Israel maintains that they are consistent with international law because it does not agree that the Fourth Geneva Convention applies to the...

.


Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states in paragraph 1, http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/0/6756482d86146898c125641e004aa3c5?OpenDocument

Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive.

and states in paragraph 6,

The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.


Arguments supporting the position that establishing, funding, or allowing settlements in the territories is a violation of international law are,
  • The International Committee of the Red Cross'
    International Committee of the Red Cross
    The International Committee of the Red Cross is a private humanitarian institution based in Geneva, Switzerland. States parties to the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols of 1977 and 2005, have given the ICRC a mandate to protect the victims of international and...

     commentaries to the Geneva Conventions http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/COM/380-600056?OpenDocument state that Article 49, paragraph 6, "is intended to prevent a practice adopted during the Second World War by certain Powers, which transferred portions of their own population to occupied territory for political and racial reasons or in order, as they claimed, to colonize those territories." It further notes "that in this paragraph the meaning of the words 'transfer' and 'deport' is rather different from that in which they are used in the other paragraphs of Article 49 since they do not refer to the movement of protected persons but to that of nationals of the occupying Power". The Committee has on several occasions described the establishment of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories as a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. http://www.icrc.org/Web/eng/siteeng0.nsf/htmlall/57JRGW?OpenDocument
  • the International Court of Justice
    International Court of Justice
    The International Court of Justice is the primary judicial organ of the United Nations. It is based in the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands...

    , in paragraph 120 of its advisory opinion
    Advisory opinion
    An advisory opinion is an opinion issued by a court that does not have the effect of adjudicating a specific legal case, but merely advises on the constitutionality or interpretation of a law. Some countries have procedures by which the executive or legislative branches may certify important...

     on the "Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory", asserts that: "That provision [article 49(6)] prohibits not only deportations or forced transfers of population such as those carried out during the Second World War, but also any measures taken by an occupying Power in order to organize or encourage transfers of parts of its own population into the occupied territory" and "concludes that the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (including East Jerusalem) have been established in breach of international law". http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/131/1671.pdf The dissenting judge Thomas Buergenthal
    Thomas Buergenthal
    Thomas Buergenthal is a former judge of the International Court of Justice. He resigned his post as of 6 September 2010. Buergenthal is returning to his position as Lobingier Professor of Comparative Law and Jurisprudence at The George Washington University Law School...

     agreed that "this provision applies to the Israeli settlements in the West Bank and that their existence violates Article 49, paragraph 6". http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/131/1687.pdf
  • Article 8(2)(b)(viii) of the International Criminal Court
    International Criminal Court
    The International Criminal Court is a permanent tribunal to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression .It came into being on 1 July 2002—the date its founding treaty, the Rome Statute of the...

     Rome Statute defines "[t]he transfer, directly or indirectly, by the Occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies" as a war crime
    War crime
    War crimes are serious violations of the laws applicable in armed conflict giving rise to individual criminal responsibility...

    . http://www.icc-cpi.int/library/about/officialjournal/Rome_Statute_120704-EN.pdf Israel did initially sign the statute, but later declared its intention not to ratify it. http://www.globalpolicy.org/intljustice/icc/2002/0612israel.htm
  • The Security Council has in Resolution 446 determined: "that the policy and practices of Israel in establishing settlements in the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967 have no legal validity".


Arguments supporting the position that settlement in the territories does not violate international law are,
  • Israel ministry of foreign affairs argues "As the West Bank and Gaza Strip were not under the legitimate and recognized sovereignty of any state prior to the Six Day War, they should not be considered occupied territories."
  • Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention is limited to transfers or deportations into or out of Occupied Territories which are 'forcible'. http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Peace+Process/Guide+to+the+Peace+Process/Israeli+Settlements+and+International+Law.htm
  • Article 49 "cannot be viewed as prohibiting the voluntary return of individuals to the towns and villages from which they, or their ancestors, had been ousted" from living, e.g., in Gush Etzion
    Gush Etzion
    Gush Etzion is a cluster of Israeli settlements located in the Judaean Mountains directly south of Jerusalem and Bethlehem in the West Bank, Palestinian territories. The core group includes four agricultural villages that were founded in 1940-1947 on property purchased in the 1920s and 1930s, and ...

    , Jerusalem, or Hebron
    Hebron
    Hebron , is located in the southern West Bank, south of Jerusalem. Nestled in the Judean Mountains, it lies 930 meters above sea level. It is the largest city in the West Bank and home to around 165,000 Palestinians, and over 500 Jewish settlers concentrated in and around the old quarter...

     before 1948.

  • the Palestinians, as part of the Oslo Accords
    Oslo Accords
    The Oslo Accords, officially called the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements or Declaration of Principles , was an attempt to resolve the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict...

     http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/mideast/isrplo.htm, agreed that the issue of settlements in the territories shall fall under the jurisdiction of final status negotiations (Article V, Section 3).
  • Jews have a legal right to settle the areas according to the Mandate for Palestine (specifically Article 6 of the mandate concerning Jewish settlements) and to such documents as the Faisal Weizmann Agreement. The British Mandate (granted by the League of Nations
    League of Nations
    The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

    ) specifically encouraged "close settlement by Jews on the land."

Legal issues related to the Israeli West Bank barrier

See related article Israeli West Bank barrier
Israeli West Bank barrier
The Israeli West Bank barrier is a separation barrier being constructed by the State of Israel along and within the West Bank. Upon completion, the barrier’s total length will be approximately...

.


Israel has completed long stretches of barriers within the West Bank, separating Israel proper, Israeli settlements and large parts of the Palestinian territories from Palestinian cities and population centers.
  • Those who question the legality of the barrier make the following arguments:
    • The barrier has been found to be illegal by the legal arm of the United Nations (the International Court of Justice
      International Court of Justice
      The International Court of Justice is the primary judicial organ of the United Nations. It is based in the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands...

      ).
    • At various locations, the selected route of the barrier required the demolition of homes and the expulsion of the residents of those homes, in violation of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention
      Fourth Geneva Convention
      The Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, commonly referred to as the Fourth Geneva Convention and abbreviated as GCIV, is one of the four treaties of the Geneva Conventions. It was adopted in August 1949, and defines humanitarian protections for civilians...

      .
    • The barrier and Israel's series of checkpoints have made life nearly impossible for residents of the West Bank, constituting collective punishment
      Collective punishment
      Collective punishment is the punishment of a group of people as a result of the behavior of one or more other individuals or groups. The punished group may often have no direct association with the other individuals or groups, or direct control over their actions...

      . Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention
      Fourth Geneva Convention
      The Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, commonly referred to as the Fourth Geneva Convention and abbreviated as GCIV, is one of the four treaties of the Geneva Conventions. It was adopted in August 1949, and defines humanitarian protections for civilians...

       categorize collective punishment in occupied territories as a war crime
      War crime
      War crimes are serious violations of the laws applicable in armed conflict giving rise to individual criminal responsibility...

      .
    • At various locations, the selected route of the barrier required the demolition of Palestinian property, in violation of article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Conventions.
    • The barrier is an attempt to establish de facto borders between Israel and a future Palestinian state, in effect annexing large parts of West Bank and all of East Jerusalem, in violation of numerous United Nations Security Council Resolutions.
    • The barrier attempts to separate Palestinians from their means of livelihood and from interaction with others and is therefore qualifies as Apartheid. Apartheid is illegal as per the 2002 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and is considered a crime against humanity
      Crime against humanity
      Crimes against humanity, as defined by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Explanatory Memorandum, "are particularly odious offenses in that they constitute a serious attack on human dignity or grave humiliation or a degradation of one or more human beings...

       (see also: Israel and the apartheid analogy).
    • The barrier is constructed inside of the West Bank, making it completely in violation of international law.
    • The barrier differs from all other protective barriers built by any other state (such as the Berlin Wall, or the US-Mexico border) in that it is not constructed on the border between states but rather crosses the occupied territories in numerous locations, and with existing/expanding settlements, divides the occupied territories into 4 or 5 cantons.

  • Israel defends the security barrier by arguing that:
    • The barrier and its route are solely security measures that will have no bearing on future peace negotiations.
    • The land is not subject to the Geneva Conventions.
    • The Geneva Conventions explicitly allows structures to be built for purposes of self-defense.
    • The Israeli Supreme Court is reviewing the route on a continuous basis and has forced it to change.
    • StandWithUs
      StandWithUs
      StandWithUs is a non-profit pro-Israel education and advocacy organization based in Los Angeles. As of 2009, it has branches in Los Angeles, New York, Denver, Michigan, Chicago, Seattle, Orange County, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, the UK, Australia, and Israel....

      , a pro-Israel advocacy organization, defends the security fence by pointing out:
      • Israel did not begin building the fence until 2003, when terrorism reached unprecedented levels.
      • The fence is similar to barriers
        Separation barrier
        A separation barrier is a wall or fence constructed to limit the movement of people across a certain line or border, or to separate two populations. These structures vary in placement with regard to international borders and topography...

         that dozens of other democracies
        Democracy
        Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

         have built to keep out terrorists or illegal immigrants, such as the barriers between the United States
        United States
        The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

         and Mexico
        Mexico
        The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

        , India
        India
        India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

         and Kashmir
        Kashmir
        Kashmir is the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent. Until the mid-19th century, the term Kashmir geographically denoted only the valley between the Great Himalayas and the Pir Panjal mountain range...

        , Spain
        Spain
        Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

         and Morocco
        Morocco
        Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

        , North
        North Korea
        The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea , , is a country in East Asia, occupying the northern half of the Korean Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Pyongyang. The Korean Demilitarized Zone serves as the buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea...

         and South Korea
        South Korea
        The Republic of Korea , , is a sovereign state in East Asia, located on the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula. It is neighbored by the People's Republic of China to the west, Japan to the east, North Korea to the north, and the East China Sea and Republic of China to the south...

         and even the walls within Belfast
        Belfast
        Belfast is the capital of and largest city in Northern Ireland. By population, it is the 14th biggest city in the United Kingdom and second biggest on the island of Ireland . It is the seat of the devolved government and legislative Northern Ireland Assembly...

         that separate Protestant and Catholic neighborhoods.
      • Since construction of the fence began in 2003, the number of completed terrorist attacks has dropped by more than 90%.
      • 97% of the barrier is a chain-link fence similar to those along the United States's border; only 3% (10 miles) is a concrete wall, built to prevent sniper shooting prevalent in certain areas.
      • Only 5%-8% of the West Bank and less than 1% of Palestinians will end up on the Israeli side of the fence.
      • Palestinians can bring their specific grievances about the barrier to Israel's Supreme Court
        Supreme Court of Israel
        The Supreme Court is at the head of the court system and highest judicial instance in Israel. The Supreme Court sits in Jerusalem.The area of its jurisdiction is all of Israel and the Israeli-occupied territories. A ruling of the Supreme Court is binding upon every court, other than the Supreme...

        , which in several cases has ruled that the fence must be re-routed.


In 2004, the United Nations passed a number of resolutions and the International Court of Justice
International Court of Justice
The International Court of Justice is the primary judicial organ of the United Nations. It is based in the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands...

 issued a ruling where judges unanimously stated that the portions of the Israeli West Bank barrier that are located within occupied Palestinian territories are illegal under international law. http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/131/1677.pdf Prior to the ruling, Israel had made the claim that the ICJ lacked standing to rule on the legality of the barrier, which the court unanimously rejected. On July 20, 2004, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution demanding that Israel obey the ICJ ruling. http://domino.un.org/unispal.nsf/0/f3b95e613518a0ac85256eeb00683444?OpenDocument 150 nations voted in favor of the resolution, 7 voted against, and 10 abstained.

United Nations


In October 2003, the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution, which stated:

The construction by Israel, the occupying power, of a wall in the Occupied Territories departing from the armistice line of 1949 is illegal under relevant provisions of international law and must be ceased and reversed.


The United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

, and Cameroon
Cameroon
Cameroon, officially the Republic of Cameroon , is a country in west Central Africa. It is bordered by Nigeria to the west; Chad to the northeast; the Central African Republic to the east; and Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Republic of the Congo to the south. Cameroon's coastline lies on the...

 abstained from the vote. The justification given by the U.S. for the veto was that the resolution did not condemn terrorist attacks made by Palestinian groups (see Negroponte doctrine
Negroponte doctrine
On July 26, 2002, John Negroponte, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, stated that the United States will oppose Security Council resolutions concerning the Israeli–Palestinian conflict that condemn Israel without also condemning terrorist groups...

). The United States, however, has been condemned by some countries for its support of the barrier.

One week later, on October 21, a similar (though non-binding
Non-binding resolution
A non-binding resolution is a written motion adopted by a deliberative body that cannot progress into a law. The substance of the resolution can be anything that can normally be proposed as a motion....

) resolution (ES-10/13) was passed by the UN General Assembly 144-4 with 12 abstentions. The resolution said the barrier was "in contradiction to international law", and demanded that Israel "stop and reverse" its construction. Israel called the resolution a "farce".

Process of the ICJ


In December 2003, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution requesting the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to make a non-binding advisory opinion on the "legal consequences arising" from the construction of the barrier.

The hearings began in February 2004. The Palestinian Authority is not a member of the court but was allowed to make a submission by virtue of being a UN observer and a co-sponsor of the General Assembly resolution. In January 2004, the court also authorized the League of Arab States and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference to make submissions.

Israel initially announced that it would cooperate with the court, while noting that advisory rulings of the ICJ are not binding. Israel later made a written submission to the court rejecting the authority of the court to rule on the case, but announced (on February 12, 2004) that it would not appear at the court to make oral submissions.

On January 30, 2004, Israel announced officially it did not recognize ICJ authority to rule over the barrier issue. Israel also dispatched a 120 page document, elaborating on the security needs to build the "terror prevention fence" and purporting to demonstrate the atrocities committed by Palestinian terrorists. The document also included a judicial part with legal accounts supporting Israel's claim that the issue of the barrier is political and not in the ICJ authority. Critics of the Israeli government argued that Israel has a long history of insisting that international law does not apply to the Israeli government's decisions. The Israeli government on numerous occasions has rejected UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, international court decisions, the Geneva Conventions, the precedence set by the Nuremberg Trials (specifically regarding the crime of Aggression
Aggression
In psychology, as well as other social and behavioral sciences, aggression refers to behavior between members of the same species that is intended to cause humiliation, pain, or harm. Ferguson and Beaver defined aggressive behavior as "Behavior which is intended to increase the social dominance of...

) and international consensus.

On 23, 24, and 25 February 2004 the hearings before the International Court of Justice took place in the Peace Palace
Peace Palace
The Peace Palace is a building situated in The Hague, Netherlands. It is often called the seat of international law because it houses the International Court of Justice , the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the Hague Academy of International Law, and the extensive Peace Palace Library.In addition...

 at the Hague
The Hague
The Hague is the capital city of the province of South Holland in the Netherlands. With a population of 500,000 inhabitants , it is the third largest city of the Netherlands, after Amsterdam and Rotterdam...

.

Ruling of the ICJ



On July 9, 2004, the International Court of Justice issued its opinion against the barrier, calling for it to be removed and the Arab residents to be compensated for any damage done. The Court advised that the United Nations General Assembly, which had asked for the ruling, and the Security Council
United Nations Security Council
The United Nations Security Council is one of the principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. Its powers, outlined in the United Nations Charter, include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of...

 should act on the issue.

The ICJ opinions were as follows :
  1. The construction of the wall being built by Israel, the occupying Power, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, and its associated regime, are contrary to international law;
  2. Israel is under an obligation to terminate its breaches of international law; it is under an obligation to cease forthwith the works of construction of the wall being built in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, to dismantle forthwith the structure therein situated, and to repeal or render ineffective forthwith all legislative and regulatory acts relating thereto, in accordance with paragraph 151 of this Opinion;
  3. Israel is under an obligation to make reparation for all damage caused by the construction of the wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem;
  4. All States are under an obligation not to recognize the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall and not to render aid or assistance in maintaining the situation created by such construction; all States parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention
    Fourth Geneva Convention
    The Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, commonly referred to as the Fourth Geneva Convention and abbreviated as GCIV, is one of the four treaties of the Geneva Conventions. It was adopted in August 1949, and defines humanitarian protections for civilians...

     relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949 have in addition the obligation, while respecting the United Nations Charter
    United Nations Charter
    The Charter of the United Nations is the foundational treaty of the international organization called the United Nations. It was signed at the San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center in San Francisco, United States, on 26 June 1945, by 50 of the 51 original member countries...

     and international law, to ensure compliance by Israel with international humanitarian law as embodied in that Convention;
  5. The United Nations, and especially the General Assembly and the Security Council, should consider what further action is required to bring to an end the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall and the associated regime, taking due account of the present Advisory Opinion.



The opinion were passed 14-1 by the court judges, except for the 4th decision which was passed 13-2.

Thomas Buergenthal
Thomas Buergenthal
Thomas Buergenthal is a former judge of the International Court of Justice. He resigned his post as of 6 September 2010. Buergenthal is returning to his position as Lobingier Professor of Comparative Law and Jurisprudence at The George Washington University Law School...

, the American judge, was the sole dissenting member of the 15 judges on this ICJ panel. In his declaration http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/131/1687.pdf he concluded that the court should have declined to hear the case since it did not have before it "relevant facts bearing directly on issues of Israel's legitimate right of self-defense". Judge Buergenthals choice of entitling his opinion a 'declaration' instead of the more contrarian 'dissent' was apparently due to his view that "there is much in the Opinion with which I agree."

Reaction to the ICJ


Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat said: "This is an excellent decision. This is a victory for the Palestinian people and for all the free peoples of the world."

Israel rejected the ICJ ruling and emphasized the barrier's self-defense aspect http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/about%20the%20ministry/mfa%20spokesman/2004/Statement%20on%20ICJ%20Advisory%20Opinion%209-July-2004, and stressed that Israel will continue to build the barrier. The United States also rejected the ruling, declaring that the issue was of political rather than legal nature. Colin Powell
Colin Powell
Colin Luther Powell is an American statesman and a retired four-star general in the United States Army. He was the 65th United States Secretary of State, serving under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2005. He was the first African American to serve in that position. During his military...

 stated that barrier was effective against terror, and noted that the ICJ ruling was not binding, but insisted that Israel not use the barrier to predetermine permanent borders. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/449648.html

Numerous human rights organizations welcomed the ICJ ruling. Amnesty International
Amnesty International
Amnesty International is an international non-governmental organisation whose stated mission is "to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated."Following a publication of Peter Benenson's...

 said that Israel should immediately cease constructing the barrier. The governments of Israel's neighbors Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

, Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

, Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

, and Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 also welcomed the ruling.

On July 13, 2004, the U.S. House of Representatives passed Resolution HR 713 deploring "the misuse of the International Court of Justice (ICJ)... for the narrow political purpose of advancing the Palestinian position on matters Palestinian authorities have said should be the subject of negotiations between the parties." http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c108:H.RES.713: The Resolution further noted that twenty three countries, including every member of the G8
G8
The Group of Eight is a forum, created by France in 1975, for the governments of seven major economies: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In 1997, the group added Russia, thus becoming the G8...

 and several other European states, had "submitted objections on various grounds against the ICJ hearing the case."

On July 20, 2004, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution demanding that Israel obey the ICJ ruling. http://domino.un.org/unispal.nsf/0/f3b95e613518a0ac85256eeb00683444?OpenDocument Israel, the U.S., Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, the Federated States of Micronesia
Federated States of Micronesia
The Federated States of Micronesia or FSM is an independent, sovereign island nation, made up of four states from west to east: Yap, Chuuk, Pohnpei and Kosrae. It comprises approximately 607 islands with c...

, the Marshall Islands
Marshall Islands
The Republic of the Marshall Islands , , is a Micronesian nation of atolls and islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, just west of the International Date Line and just north of the Equator. As of July 2011 the population was 67,182...

, and Palau
Palau
Palau , officially the Republic of Palau , is an island nation in the Pacific Ocean, east of the Philippines and south of Tokyo. In 1978, after three decades as being part of the United Nations trusteeship, Palau chose independence instead of becoming part of the Federated States of Micronesia, a...

 voted against the resolution, 10 nations abstained, and 150 nations voted in favor.

Legal definition of refugee


The tractate that is most often invoked for legally defining refugee
Refugee
A refugee is a person who outside her country of origin or habitual residence because she has suffered persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or because she is a member of a persecuted 'social group'. Such a person may be referred to as an 'asylum seeker' until...

s is the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees
Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees
The United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees is an international convention that defines who is a refugee, and sets out the rights of individuals who are granted asylum and the responsibilities of nations that grant asylum. The Convention also sets out which people do not...

. The definition of "refugee" is most often summarized as

... a person who is outside his/her country of nationality or habitual residence; has a well-founded fear of persecution because of his/her race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion; and is unable or unwilling to avail himself/herself of the protection of that country, or to return there, for fear of persecution. The convention is administered by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees , also known as The UN Refugee Agency is a United Nations agency mandated to protect and support refugees at the request of a government or the UN itself and assists in their voluntary repatriation, local integration or resettlement to...

 (UNCHR).


The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East is a relief and human development agency, providing education, health care, social services and emergency aid to 5 million Palestine refugees living in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, as well as in the West Bank and the Gaza...

 (UNRWA), which was established prior to the 1951 convention in response to the humanitarian crisis, applies a different definition:

Under UNRWA's operational definition, Palestine refugees are persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine between June 1946 and May 1948, who lost both their homes and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict. UNRWA's services are available to all those living in its area of operations who meet this definition, who are registered with the Agency and who need assistance. UNRWA's definition of a refugee also covers the descendants of persons who became refugees in 1948.


Since the definition used by UNRWA was originally made on an operational basis rather than dictated by specific international law, obligations and rights related to Palestinian refugees under international law are a matter of some debate. The debate centers on questions such as: whether the status of refugees can properly be passed through inheritance to individuals who have never lived in the vacated areas, and whether individuals who have repatriated in other countries can legally claim refugee status.

Palestinian refugees were excluded from the 1951 Convention due to the clause that "This Convention shall not apply to persons who are at present receiving from organs or agencies of the United Nations other than the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees protection or assistance." As interpreted by UNHCR, this caused some anomalies, since UNRWA admits some persons as refugees that are not automatically admitted by the Convention, and, conversely, some of the legal protections given to refugees by the Convention were not available to most Palestinians. In 2002, UNHCR adopted a revised interpretation that fills some of these gaps. The BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights published a critical analysis of UNHCR revised interpretation of the 1951 Refugee Convention.

Critics of the definition that UNRWA uses have raised objections as to the number of people that should be considered refugees under international law, by noting that the practice of awarding refugee status to descendants was not mandated by the later 1951 convention. However, common practice according to the UNHCR Handbook on Procedures and Criteria for Determining Refugee Status is that "if the head of a family meets the criteria of the definition, his dependants are normally granted refugee status according to the principle of family unity". In the case of both the UNRWA and UNHCR, actual provision of assistance to a refugee is contingent on a perceived need.

Arab-Israeli peace diplomacy and treaties

  • Paris Peace Conference, 1919
    Paris Peace Conference, 1919
    The Paris Peace Conference was the meeting of the Allied victors following the end of World War I to set the peace terms for the defeated Central Powers following the armistices of 1918. It took place in Paris in 1919 and involved diplomats from more than 32 countries and nationalities...

  • Faisal-Weizmann Agreement (1919)
    Faisal-Weizmann Agreement
    The Faisal–Weizmann Agreement was signed on January 3, 1919, by Emir Feisal , who was for a short time King of the Arab Kingdom of Syria or Greater Syria in 1920, and was King of the Kingdom of Iraq from August 1921 to 1933, and Chaim Weizmann as part of the Paris Peace Conference, 1919 settling...

  • San Remo Conference
    San Remo conference
    The San Remo Conference was an international meeting of the post-World War I Allied Supreme Council, held in Sanremo, Italy, from 19 to 26 April 1920. It was attended by the four Principal Allied Powers of World War I who were represented by the prime ministers of Britain , France and Italy and...

    , 1920
  • Palestine Mandate, 1922
  • 1949 Armistice Agreements
    1949 Armistice Agreements
    The 1949 Armistice Agreements are a set of agreements signed during 1949 between Israel and neighboring Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria. The agreements ended the official hostilities of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, and established armistice lines between Israeli forces and the forces in...

  • Camp David Accords (1978)
  • Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty (1979)
    Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty
    The 1979 Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty was signed in Washington, D.C. on the 26th of March 1979, following the 1978 Camp David Accords, which were signed by Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, and were witnessed by United States President Jimmy Carter.The peace...

  • Madrid Conference of 1991
    Madrid Conference of 1991
    The Madrid Conference was hosted by the government of Spain and co-sponsored by the USA and the USSR. It convened on October 30, 1991 and lasted for three days. It was an early attempt by the international community to start a peace process through negotiations involving Israel and the Palestinians...

  • Oslo Accords (1993)
    Oslo Accords
    The Oslo Accords, officially called the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements or Declaration of Principles , was an attempt to resolve the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict...

  • Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace (1994)
    Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace
    The Israel–Jordan Treaty of Peace was signed in 1994. The treaty normalized relations between the two countries and resolved territorial disputes. The conflict had cost roughly US$18.3 billion...

  • Camp David 2000 Summit
    Camp David 2000 Summit
    The Middle East Peace Summit at Camp David of July 2000 took place between United States President Bill Clinton, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat...

  • Peace process in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
    Peace process in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
    The peace process in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict has taken shape over the years, despite the ongoing violence in the Middle East and an "all or nothing" attitude about a lasting peace, "which prevailed for most of the twentieth century"...

  • Projects working for peace among Israelis and Arabs
    Projects working for peace among Israelis and Arabs
    Projects working for peace among Arabs and Israelis have been operating for years in different fields.- Policy groups:Organizations or institutions which address and analyze policy issues in a wide range of areas...

  • List of Middle East peace proposals

External links