July 9, 2009 marked the five-year anniversary of the International Court of Justice’s advisory opinion against Israel’s Security Barrier – a political process that was largely precipitated and aided by the NGO network. Although the advisory opinion is not legally binding and does not constitute “international law,” NGOs continue to falsely claim that the decision requires Israel to dismantle the barrier, and that “all States are under an obligation not to recognise, aid or assist the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the Wall and its associated regime.” Then, and now, the legitimate Israeli security requirements in response to Palestinian mass terror attacks, is largely ignored in this distorted discussion.
In marking the fifth anniversary of this campaign, Oxfam also ignored the core security issues, instead repeating the unsupported claim that the barrier “de facto contribute[s] to the altering of the demographic composition of the occupied Palestinian Territory and [is] in violation of international humanitarian law,” urging “the international community to pressure Israel toward implementing” the opinion. Palestinian NGO Al Haq, which has used the ICJ opinion as the basis for several lawfare cases, issued a letter calling for the convening of a “Conference of High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention” to “ensure compliance by Israel with IHL.” Addameer and the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign (PGAAWC) called for boycotts and sanctions against Israel.
The ICJ process was marked by many procedural irregularities. For example, the terms of reference by the UN General Assembly for the opinion pre-determined the court’s decision including referring to the barrier as a “wall” and concluding the barrier was constructed on “occupied Palestinian territory”. And in a breach of protocol, “Palestine” was allowed to submit written and oral statements to the court, although it does not have the status of a state within the UN system. For more information on the issue, click here.