February 24, 2004
On December 8, 2003, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a Palestinian-initiated resolution (GA resolution A/ES-10/L.16) sending the issue of Israel’s security barrier to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague for an advisory opinion on the question: “What are the legal consequences arising from the construction of the wall being built by Israel, the occupying Power, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.” The ICJ began to hear the case beginning on February 23. This will mark the first time that the ICJ will give an opinion on an issue related the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The Palestinian Authority had attempted to have the Security Council pass such a resolution; however, these efforts were unsuccessful, and they turned instead to the General Assembly, where a majority of member nations routinely support anti-Israel resolutions.
For over fifty years, a campaign of manipulation and abuse of the United Nations system has been waged by those who seek to isolate and delegitimize the State of Israel. The General Assembly, the Human Rights Commission, and other U.N. bodies regularly demonize Israel in biased resolutions, unbalanced scrutiny, and in hostile statements. Such anti-Israel activities and statements raise serious questions about the United Nation’s interest in Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation, as well as to the appropriateness of the U.N. Secretariat’s involvement in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations over the security fence. Three members of the Quartet — the United States, Russia and the European Union — have submitted written statements objecting to this issue being brought before the ICJ.
The General Assembly’s entangling the ICJ in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to give an opinion on matters that should be determined through bilateral negotiations, is a dangerous politicization of international law for short-term public relations gain, with potentially grave repercussions for the integrity of international law and of the ICJ.
The JCPA believes:
- That consistent with the framework of Arab-Israel peace agreements, issues relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should be settled through bilateral negotiations. Solutions should not be predetermined or imposed by the International Court of Justice or other international bodies.
- That the United Nations General Assembly resolution requesting an advisory opinion from the ICJ on Israel’s security fence reflects a long campaign by Israel’s detractors to manipulate and abuse the U.N. system to isolate and demonize the Jewish State. This anti-Israel environment in the U.N. serves to undermine constructive efforts to promote Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
- That the ICJ involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has potentially dangerous repercussions for the integrity of the Court and international law.
The community relations field should:
- Monitor the proceedings, educate the community, media and local officials about the anti-Israel bias implicit in the process, and make the case for Israel’s security needs in the face of Palestinian unceasing terrorism.
- Reach out to U.S. officials and to the legal community, urging them to speak out publicly with concerns about the politicization and misuse of the International Court of Justice and its repercussions for the integrity of international law.
- Educate the community, local media and opinion molders on the misuse of international bodies such as the U.N. and the ICJ to single out and isolate Israel.