Israel must comply with its obligations under international law and reverse its policies and practices aiming at formally annexing parts of the West Bank, the ICJ said in a Briefing Paper released today, analyzing the applicable international law.
The ICJ’s analysis – The Road to Annexation – contradicts the 18 November 2019 statement by the US Secretary of State, Michael R. Pompeo, in which he asserted that the establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is “not per se inconsistent with international law.”
“Israel’s settlements are illegal no matter how hard the Israeli and the US governments try to spin or whitewash them,” said Said Benarbia, the ICJ Middle East and North Africa Director.
“Any sovereignty claims by Israel over East Jerusalem and the West Bank are null and void under international law and must be repudiated, not condoned or encouraged,” he added.
The ICJ’s Briefing Paper explains that such statements by the US administration are void and of no effect under international law, as are the underpinning Israeli settlement laws, policies and practices.
Throughout the 52 years of occupation over the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Israel has implemented long-term, irreversible changes to the occupied territory, including the establishment and continuous expansion of Israeli settlements, as well as the construction of the Separation Barrier incorporating considerable parts of the West Bank into Israeli territory.
The ICJ Briefing Paper finds that these activities, combined with Israel’s legislative activity aiming at extending its sovereignty over settlements, are a further, strong evidence of Israel’s plans to annex parts of the West Bank.
Such annexation is prohibited by international law, including Article 2(4) of the UN Charter, which forbids the use of force against the territorial integrity of a State and, consequently, the transmission of sovereign title over territories resulting from such use of force.
The International Court of Justice has affirmed that the prohibition of territorial acquisition by force is a peremptory norm of international law, from which no derogation is permitted.
The ICJ also examines the legal implications of the annexation of the West Bank for third States, urging them not to recognize annexation efforts and activities, refrain from providing assistance to them, and act, collectively and individually, to bring such unlawful conduct to an end.
“The international community must not legitimize or aid and abet Israel’s moves to annex parts of the West Bank,” said Said Benarbia.
“Instead of condoning and supporting the acquisition of land by force, the US should urge Israel to end its occupation of the Palestinian territory, including by dismantling existing settlements and refraining from establishing new ones,” he added.
Said Benarbia, Director of ICJ’s Middle East and North Africa Program, t: +41 22 979 38 17 ; e: said.benarbia(a)icj.org
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