Interview with Suheil Suliman, coordinator of the popular committees in the West Bank.

Only a few days are between us and the anniversary of the Hague ruling. Tell us about the ruling and its importance to Palestinians.

First of all, I want to underline the importance of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling that was determined July 9, 2003. This legal ruling has been issued by the highest judicial body in the world, namely the High Court of Justice, and that its provisions are legal provisions. It is a ruling that differentiates itself from any previous decision in its legal aspect as it is fundamentally based on International Humanitarian Law (IHL). IHL is a binding law that organizes the relationships between an occupying state and the state that is under occupation. For this reason the provisions of the ICJ ruling are legally binding as well.

ICJ's determination is the advisory or ruling opinion, but some are trying to lessen its importance. The provisions of this ruling are based on legal foundations and International Humanitarian Law. Subsequently, this ruling is binding to all parties including Palestine. The Palestinian side must implement the provisions or at least examine their details. Specifically, the ruling discusses the nullity of all procedures that the occupying state of Israel has carried out on the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) and discusses the illegality of the Israeli settlements as a violation of international human rights law. Furthermore, the specified Israeli practices on occupied territory against the land and Palestinian citizens include building settlements, forcing the transfer of residents, prohibiting work, and confiscating private property, especially the confiscation of land. These are war crimes and we as Palestinians must document them, take them to the international court, and bring to trial the Occupation's leadership for the crimes that they have committed.

It is especially important that the Occupation be tried in court because most of these crimes are serious crimes. They are serious violations under international law and classified as war crimes or crimes against humanity. What is happening in the Palestinian territories and in particular in Jerusalem is a systematic plan within a systematic political framework, which is being carried out by the Occupation state. As such it is carrying out crimes against humanity.

In my estimation, the Palestinian side must implement this ruling in two ways. The first approach is to direct it towards the United Nations. However, sending it to the United Nations is not the only approach since the ruling addresses three levels.

The first level is the Occupation state, stipulating that the Occupation state must stop work on the Wall, dismantle the parts which it have already been built, return the land and orchards that existed before, and compensate the Palestinians for damages resulting from the building of the Wall.

On the second level the ruling addresses the states of the world, except for Israel, ordering them not to recognize the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the Wall and not to provide any kind of indirect support to the Occupation state in continuing its legal violations. This means that states that are signatories of the fourth Geneva convention, which stipulates in the first clause that all signatories must respect these agreements and guarantee that they are respected at all times, must not only withdraw their support of Israel, but that they must force Israel to obey International Humanitarian Law.

As for the third level, which is not of less importance than the previous, is the United Nations. The ruling stipulates that the United Nations, in its two bodies, must take measures that would force Israel to obey international law. A number of decisions, or resolutions, have been issued regarding Israel that indicate that it is a state not friendly to peace and represents a threat to world peace.

The second approach for the Palestinian implementation of this ruling requires first of all Palestinian will, in particular the leadership of the PLO and the leadership of the PNA, as well as the Arab League which has a moral responsibility toward this ruling and all state signatories to the Fourth Geneva Conventions.

What are the actions that need to be undertaken on the local Palestinian level, and how do they differ from previous years?

Truly, this year there will be different activities on the anniversary of the Hague ruling. The central activity will be on the same day as the anniversary of the ruling near the Qalandiya refugee camp, which is located at the entrance to Jerusalem. This action is to remind the Occupation state of the crimes that it commits each day against the Palestinian people, of which the existence of the Wall is one of many ongoing crimes. There will be a series of seminars and lectures with citizens and Palestinian politicians in order to illuminate the ruling. In particular, the talks will address the impact of war crimes in international law, which do not have any statue of limitations. This means that although this ruling was issued seven years ago, the ruling itself has not weakened. Furthermore, we will hold meetings with political parties in the PLO such that they are held accountable for their role in implementing the ruling.

What is the responsibility of the people of the world on the 7th anniversary of the Hague ruling?

The people of the world are asked to pressure their governments to adopt procedures that obey international law. In particular, the state signatories of the 4th Geneva Convention must pressure directly the Occupation state, which is a direct threat to peace and international security, violates daily international legal resolutions, and, most importantly, has violated Security Council and General Assembly resolutions through complete boycott campaigns.


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