Civil Society

Justice Deferred: Upholding the ICJ Ruling

Al-Shabaka Policy Brief


Palestinians have struggled against Israel’s Wall in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem for the past eight years. In July 2004, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) affirmed that the Wall and Israel’s occupation regime were in violation of international law. Al-Shabaka policy advisor Jamal Juma’, who has served as the coordinator of the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign since 2002, examines how and why the Wall was established, discusses the implications of the Court’s decision, and concludes with policy recommendations addressed to different sectors of Palestinian society and the international community.

What the Wall Has Done

Israel began constructing the Wall in June 2002 following its invasion of cities in the West Bank, which it dubbed “Operation Defensive Shield.” In retrospect, the invasion appears to have been a prelude to the construction of the Wall and no one recognized the significance of the invasion’s code name at the time. The immense scale of the 2002 invasion -- characterized by the destruction of Palestinian civilian infrastructure, mass arrests, assassinations and massacres -- ensured that the construction of the Wall would commence with as little resistance as possible.

Accompanied by hundreds of military checkpoints, the Wall solidified the dismemberment of the West Bank’s major population centers into Bantustans, separated from each other and segregated from occupied East Jerusalem. Israel’s actions were intended to enhance its control over the Palestinian people and block the establishment of a Palestinian state. The Wall intentionally blurs the “Green Line,” the internationally recognized armistice line between Israel and the occupied West Bank, thus over-riding international law and United Nations Security Council Resolutions relating to the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). Instead of relying on international law, Israel has substituted negotiations over “disputed” territories for which it sets the terms under an American shield (See Mouin Rabbani's policy brief).

Today, Israel’s “facts on the ground” clearly display the realities of its system of apartheid:

  • The Wall, which will reach 810 km in length, isolates 46% of the occupied West Bank and divides it into three large cantons and 22 small Bantustans. It cements Israel’s control over 82-85% of Palestinian water resources in the OPT.

  • A 1,400 km road network is dedicated exclusively to Israelis and separated from Palestinian roads by 48 tunnels.

  • Thirty-four military checkpoints control the movement of people and goods between the different cantons and the movement of commercial traffic with Israel and the outside world.

  • Industrial zones, agricultural areas and crafts workshops have been established along the Wall. These Israeli, joint, and international ventures aim to transform the Palestinian people into a cheap labor force dependent on the Israeli economy. Raw materials and exports are entirely Israeli while the capital is international, Israeli, and Palestinian.