Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Israel takes on the ICJ (Updated)

Israel's State's Attorney Office has issued a report rejecting the International Court of Justice's advisory opinion that Israel's construction of a wall dividing Israelis and Palestinians violated international law. The opinion held that:

The ruling last year by the International Court of Justice on the separation fence between Israel and the Palestinians was based on erroneous and outdated information...

The Israeli State Attorney's Office concluded that:

The lack of a factual infrastructure and the superficiality of the analysis constitute a substantial blow to the legal validity of the international court's adamant findings and the legitimacy of its conclusions.

I don't have the 170 page report (nor do I plan to read it, even if it is in English) but if there really are factual errors in the ICJ's analysis, this is yet another reason the ICJ should have avoided issuing an advisory opinion here, where the facts (e.g. where the wall went and who owns which territories) are enormously important.

UPDATE: The factual mistake in the ICJ's decision, according to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs sounds substantial.

According to the state prosecution, the judges assumed that the fence would annex 16 percent of the West Bank to Israel, whereas the actual fence route authorized by Attorney General Menachem Mazuz only includes 3.3 percent of the West Bank. Furthermore, the state argued, Mazuz's approved route did not include three enclaves that would have pushed the fence deep into West Bank territory in the areas of the Ariel, Ma'aleh Adumim, as well as around the Gush Etzion bloc, located south of Jerusalem.



Blogger Andreas Paulus said...

Sorry, Julian, but this appears to me to be another example of your permanent bias against international institutions, whereas you seem to believe all US and Israeli government publications without any critical consideration: The ICJ referred, of course, to the projections regarding the wall, not only the route already finalized. Indeed,the change of the route testifies to the relevance of the ICJ opinion (and the parallel ruling of the Israeli Supreme Court) for the Israeli decisionmakers. Let's look to another source: The New York Times reported that the government has reversed its plans to include about 14 percent of the West Bank to about 7 percent. Is the Times grotesque errors, too?

Best, Andreas

2/24/2005 12:55 PM  
Blogger Julian Ku said...

Hi Andreas, thanks again for your useful clarification/correction. I may have a permanent bias against international institutions or for U.S./Israeli institutions, but I don't think pointing out this report necessarily reflects this.

I take it you are suggesting that Israel actually changed the route of the Wall in reaction to the ICJ ruling? I thought any change was as a result of the Israeli Supreme Court ruling? In any case, wasn't it somewhat inappropriate for the ICJ to issue a ruling on "projections" for the construction of a wall? I realize that this was an advisory opinion, but do you really think a ruling here was helpful given its necessarily speculative nature?

BTW, while I do not accept your characterization of my "bias" toward international institutions, let me assure you that I freely admit a bias toward the accuracy of the NYT! :) (check out Mnookin's book: )

2/24/2005 8:25 PM  
Blogger Andreas Paulus said...

Julian, I agree that all reporting is wrought with error, and the NYT is no exception (and neither am I). I think that the correction of the route is a perfect example for the dialogue of Courts, if sometimes a silent one. Do you really believe it was by mere chance that Beit Sourik happened over a week before the ICJ ruling? And that the Supreme Court has required the government to submit a statement on the opinion? And that the Attorney General referred to the ICJ opinion when determining that the recent government attempt to rob Palestinians of their land using the wall was illegal.
But of course, this is not full compliance, which is not required by an Advisory Opinion anyway.
Best, Andreas

2/25/2005 6:56 AM  
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