ICJ Commemorative Speech: Foreign Minister Nasser Al-Kidwa’s Post-ICJ Strategy
ICJ Commemorative Speech: Foreign Minister Nasser Al-Kidwa’s Post-ICJ Strategy
On the Occasion of the First Commemoration of the International Court of Justice’s Advisory Opinion on the Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem
“One Year Later: Follow-up and Implementation of the ICJ Advisory Opinion”
11 July 2005 Cultural Palace Ramallah, Palestine
Excellencies Ministers, Honorable Members of the Palestinian Legislative Council,
Madame Commissioner-General of UNRWA,
Excellencies Consul-Generals and Representatives to the Palestinian National Authority,
Deputy Special Coordinator and Representative of the Secretary-General to the Palestinian National Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization,
Sisters and Brothers,
Today we mark the passing of one year since the rendering of the Advisory Opinion by the International Court of Justice on the Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem. This Advisory Opinion could be considered the most important development with regard to the question of Palestine in the United Nations system since the adoption of the Partition resolution by the General Assembly in 1947.
The International Court of Justice, the highest judicial organ of the United Nations system, definitively ended the debate on the Wall that is being constructed by Israel, the occupying Power, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The Court delivered the final word in very clear, decisive and comprehensive terms.
The Wall is unlawful and Israel is obliged to immediately cease its construction and to dismantle the parts constructed and to repeal all legislative and regulatory acts related thereto and Israel is obliged to make restitution and reparation for all the damages caused by the construction of the Wall. States are obliged not to recognize the illegal situation caused by the construction of the Wall and are obliged to ensure respect by Israel for international humanitarian law in accordance with the Geneva Conventions. The United Nations, particularly the General Assembly and the Security Council, should consider what further actions must be taken to bring an end to the illegal situation caused by the construction of the Wall and its associated regime, taking the Advisory Opinion into due account.
In this context, the Court also reaffirmed the legal status of the Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, as occupied territory and also reaffirmed the applicability of the relevant provisions of international law, including international humanitarian law and international human rights law, as well as the illegality of the settlements constructed by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the illegality of its measures in Occupied East Jerusalem. In light of all of this, the only possible and requisite course is adherence to the Advisory Opinion and implementation of the legal obligations as determined by the Court.
All States have clear responsibilities as do the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention – responsibilities they cannot evade. We call upon these States to fulfill their obligations.
The Palestinian people cannot believe the unprecedented injustices that they have had to endure: being uprooted from their land and their properties, the denial of their national rights, including their right to self-determination and the exercise of sovereignty; subjugation to an abhorrent foreign military occupation; systematic oppression and violations of their human rights; colonization of their Occupied Territory; and, most recently, the expansionist Wall, which involves the confiscation and destruction of thousands of dunums of land and the destruction of the lives of tens of thousands of Palestinian civilians and the illegal de facto annexation of vast areas of the Occupied Territory; and the completion of the isolation of Jerusalem and completion of the cantonization isolating large communities of our people.
The international community must assume its responsibilities, and international law and the integrity of the International Court of Justice should be upheld. It must not hide behind the cover of peace efforts. This must all be done now and before it is too late. However, we, the Palestinian people and their leadership, must also fully assume our responsibilities to confront this new war crime and to stop the Wall and remove it.
We must achieve specific goals concerning us and the outside world at all levels, Arab, Islamic and international. We must:
- First, raise national awareness with regard to the centrality of the Advisory Opinion in the struggle against the Wall and the connection of the Wall with the settlements and the Israeli measures in Jerusalem as the main components of Israel’s colonization of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.
- Second, work to achieve a high-degree of coordinated and integrated efforts among the three branches of the government, the national and Islamic factions, civil society organizations and social forces, as well as the institutions of the Palestine Liberation Organization abroad. They must all collectively make the struggle against the Wall and settler colonialism a priority in the context of a national program of action.
- Third, collectively mobilize the Arab, Islamic and international position in fulfillment of the obligations of States and the obligations of the General Assembly and the Security Council, in implementation of their legal obligations as determined by the Court and their undertaking of specific and concrete measures to ensure compliance by Israel, the occupying Power, with its obligations as determined by the Court in order to ensure its cessation of the construction of the Wall and the dismantlement of the parts already constructed and the associated regime and reparation for the damages caused by it.
To achieve all of this, we propose the following national program of action:
- The continuation and intensification of popular movements against the Wall and settler colonialism, including demonstrations and disobedience. There should be efforts towards a mass movement that would bring together broad demonstrations, which would constitute a higher-level of daily confrontation against the Wall.
- The Legislative Council should enact a law, which takes into consideration the decision by the Palestine Liberation Organization, the representative of the Palestinian people, on 7 June 1982, to accede to the Geneva Conventions and which consequently prohibits the work of any Palestinian civilian or entity in the construction of the Wall or the settlements or in any other measures in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention and Additional Protocol 1 and which prohibits trade involving settlement products and any dealings with these settlements.
- There should be serious media mobilization, and the Arab and foreign press should be urged to cover this issue and to keep it as an urgent and live topic, including promotion and explanation of the provisions of the Advisory Opinion and its importance and the importance of international law.
- This issue should be given its necessary importance in the educational fields and, in this context, simple explanations should be developed for use in schools. In addition, at the higher level, there should be study of the Written Statement by Palestine and the other Statements and Pleadings before the Court as well as, of course, the Advisory Opinion itself, which will all contribute to raising and developing political awareness based on international law.
- The steadfastness of the Palestinian civilians west of the Wall should be supported. The governmental departments directly responsible for this issue must be provided with the necessary support and all other departments should participate in this regard in each of their fields of work, and the capabilities and role of the National Committee Against the Wall should also be enhanced. Also, the spread of the population should be encouraged and strengthened and agricultural rehabilitation should be pursued to confront the Israeli colonization.
- There should be a focus on the necessity for the compliance by Israel, the occupying Power, with the provisions of the Advisory Opinion. Its non-compliance would legally make it an outlaw State, which would seriously call into question the eligibility of its government as a partner in any peace process, and the individual criminal responsibility of Israeli officials and those parties directly involved in the violation of provisions of the Advisory Opinion should also be raised and clarified.
- There should be emphasis on the necessity for compliance with the provisions of the Advisory Opinion in our bilateral relations with States and the political organizations of which they are members and, it would thus naturally follow, in our relations with Israel. We must also work with the Security Council and the General Assembly to uphold their responsibilities as determined by the Court.
- The Quartet must be called upon to take a clear position, based on the Advisory Opinion, for the cessation of the construction of the Wall and its dismantlement and the cessation of settlement activities and the removal of the settlement outposts. It must be made clear that it is impossible for there to be success in the peace process or for the implementation of the Road Map or for the realization of the two-State solution or even for a successful exercise in Gaza and the northern West Bank as long as the construction of the Wall continues and the settlement colonization of our land continues.
- An effective international position must be developed, including in the General Assembly or in the Security Council and including by civil society organizations as a whole, for the imposition of punitive measures against entities and companies and individuals involved in the construction of the Wall and partaking in any illegal activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. We must work for the creation of a broad and effective international movement to impose these punitive measures on the builder of this Wall, the settlers and the settlements.
- Finally, the United Nations Secretariat should immediately implement the request by the General Assembly for the establishment of a register of damages, including the verification of claims, which will preserve the rights of the citizens and document the Israeli violations. We should also deal seriously and speedily with the report which the General Assembly requested from Switzerland, in its capacity as the Depositary of the Geneva Conventions.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Honored Guests,
The Palestinian leadership is committed to a negotiated, peaceful solution, based on international law, to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In this context, the Palestinian National Authority, despite the difficulties that Israel is imposing with regard to its departure from Gaza and areas in the northern West Bank, is keen to achieve the rapid success of this exercise so we can immediately thereafter proceed to the implementation of the Road Map and the negotiations on the final settlement. We believe that this should be done before the end of this year. The withdrawal from Gaza should not be kept on the political agenda for much longer than that.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Honored Guests,
I wish to express our deep appreciation and gratitude to all States that participated in the work of the International Court of Justice, whether by submitting positive written statements or by participating in the oral pleadings. Those States stood for international law and for raising the primacy of the Court. I would also like to express our deep appreciation for all those States that supported General Assembly resolution ES-10/15 on the Advisory Opinion because it achieved an international consensus in favor of the Advisory Opinion and on the necessity for implementing the legal obligations as mentioned therein.
Finally, on behalf of our people, I cannot miss this opportunity to express once again our deep appreciation and thanks to the team of efficient lawyers who represented Palestine and to all the members of the team, who all carried out their work in an excellent, professional and much appreciated manner.
Let us work together to uphold the primacy of international law and to uphold the integrity of the International Court of Justice and its Advisory Opinion. Let us work together to save the two-State solution, based on the pre-1967 borders. Let us stop the Wall and dismantle it in order to achieve peace between the two peoples and in the region.