Almost every day brings the announcement of a new international initiative by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to seek recognition as a "state" or to end Israel’s military rule. Most recently, the PLO announced that it intends to seek a United Nations Security Council resolution that sets a three-year deadline to end the Israeli occupation that began in 1967. This comes after two years of efforts aimed at getting other countries to recognize the "State of Palestine" – efforts that were recently rewarded with Sweden becoming the first major European state to recognize the State of Palestine, despite the tsunami of criticism it received when it first announced its intentions. In addition, there is frequent talk of Palestine signing other international conventions, as well as joining the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Yet all this talk about new initiatives rings hollow because the PLO has done so little with the many legal tools already available to it. Just a few of these instruments would, if properly used, make Israel accountable and could hasten not just an end to occupation but also the fulfillment of all Palestinian rights. Action is especially important given the Israeli government’s recent actions in East Jerusalem and the danger to its holy sites, over and above the decades of Israeli colonization throughout the West Bank and the siege of Gaza.
First and foremost among these instruments is the 2004 International Court of Justice (ICJ) Advisory Opinion on the "Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory." The opinion was a huge achievement for the Palestinian people. It involved months of work by the PLO’s UN representative at that time who led a top notch international and national legal team that defeated Israel’s best efforts.
The importance of the ICJ Advisory Opinion must not be underestimated. It is worth recalling some of the court’s major findings:
- The Wall is illegal and Israel is obliged to make reparations for all the damage it has caused.
- Not only is the Wall illegal but so is the entire "associated
regime" – i.e., the gates, permits, closed areas, and other restrictions
on movement. Moreover, the court reaffirmed that Israeli settlements
breach international law.
- The court also affirmed that the West Bank and Gaza, including East
Jerusalem, are occupied territories and that Israel is an occupying
power with legal responsibilities.
- Perhaps most importantly, the court found that all states are
obliged not to recognize the situation as lawful and cease any
assistance or aid to Israel in maintaining it.
Read the rest of this in-depth article here:
PLO/Palestine: Time to Stop Buying Time
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