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* Construction of the Wall in the West Bank

Construction of the Wall in the West Bank

The freedom of movement also continued to be gravely impacted by Israel’s ongoing unlawful construction of the Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem. The occupying Power continues to fervently construct the Wall, in departure from the 1967 Green Line, and to expand its network of illegal colonial settlements and bypass roads the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in, around and through Occupied East Jerusalem.

It is imperative to recall that the International Court of Justice, in its Advisory Opinion of 9 July 2004, concluded, inter alia, that “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” (para.163A). This includes breaches of the U.N. Charter, U.N. resolutions, the Hague Regulations, the 4th Geneva Convention, the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Convention on the Right of the Child – all of which the Court conclusively determined to be applicable in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. In addition, in accordance with the 4th Geneva Convention and consistent with relevant Security Council resolutions on the matter, the Court affirmed that “the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (including East Jerusalem) have been established in breach of international law.” (para.120) Such unlawful activity constitutes a grave breach under Article 85 of Protocol I Additional to the Geneva Conventions.

It has become absolutely indisputable that the illegal settlement activities and the construction of the Wall are intricately correlated and part and parcel of the same unlawful objective by the occupying Power to colonize the Palestinian land and change its demographic composition in order to facilitate its de facto annexation. The relationship of these two illegal enterprises was explicitly elucidated by the ICJ in its Advisory Opinion. The Court found, inter alia, that “the Wall’s sinuous route has been traced in such a way as to include within that area the great majority of the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (including East Jerusalem)” (para.119) In this regard, the Court went on to clearly state that “the construction of the Wall and its associated regime create a ‘fait accompli’ on the ground that could well become permanent, in which case, and notwithstanding the formal characterization of the Wall by Israel, it would be tantamount to de facto annexation.” (para.121)

The Israeli argument that security considerations were the sole purpose for the Wall was firmly rejected by the Court, which stated that it “is not convinced that the specific course Israel has chosen for the Wall was necessary to attain its security objectives. The Wall, along the route chosen, and its associated regime gravely infringe a number of rights of Palestinians residing in the territory occupied by Israel, and the infringement resulting from that route cannot be justified by military exigencies”. (para.137) Moreover, while the Court acknowledged Israel’s right and duty to protect the life of its citizens, it affirmed - as stressed by the ICRC, the Secretary-General and many others - that “the measures taken are bound nonetheless to remain in conformity with applicable international law”. (para.141)

In the latest meeting of the 10th Emergency Special Session, on 24 January 2007, the General Assembly adopted resolution A/RES/ES-10/17 establishing the United Nations Register of Damage Caused by the Construction of the Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (UNROD). UNROD will serve as a record, in documentary form, of the damage caused to all natural and legal persons concerned as a result of the construction of the Wall by Israel, the occupying Power, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem. The resolution goes on to say that “Israel is accordingly under an obligation to return the land, orchards, olive groves and other immovable property seized from any natural or legal person for purposes of construction of the Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. In the event that such restitution should prove to be materially impossible, Israel has an obligation to compensate the persons in question for the damage suffered. The Court considers that Israel also has an obligation to compensate, in accordance with the applicable rules of international law, all natural or legal persons having suffered any form of material damage as a result of the Wall's construction.”

Moreover, ES/-10/17 deplored the continuing construction of the Wall which is contrary to international law, by Israel, the occupying Power, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem. Also, the resolution reaffirmed the conclusions of the International Court of Justice in its advisory opinion of 9 July 2004 and resolution ES-10/15.