Because the Qalandia Checkpoint still stands …

Because the disgraceful Qalandia Checkpoint still stands — a monstrosity that defies easy description, mostly because of disbelief that anything could be deliberately made so bad — as we enter a new year, we will call attention to it, yet again.

Today, we will leave aside the awfulness of all other passage through Qalandia Checkpoint, and focus just on the issue of pedestrian crossing of Palestinians from the West Bank of those who need to be at work, or who have any other appointment early in the day on the other side.

Here is a video compilation comparing the situation facing of people [yes, human beings] waiting to get through the checkpoint in January 2008, and again on another morning in December 2011, nearly 4 years later. The video — prepared by friends at Machsom Watch, the organization of Israeli women for human rights — was posted on the Mondoweiss blog on 24 December by Adam Horowitz [Co-Editor of] here.

It can also be watched on Youtube here:

Horowitz wrote about it on his post on Mondoweiss, simply saying: “As you watch this video keep in mind that the Qalandia checkpoint is not a border crossing between Israel and the West Bank. Like most Israeli checkpoints in the occupied territories, Qalandia is located squarely in Palestinian territory”…

For Israel, Qalandia Checkpoint — and a stretch of the road further north going from Jerusalem towards Ramallah — is within the boundaries of the “Greater Jerusalem Municipality” — a unilateral composite extension of “Jerusalem” in late June 1967, several weeks after the Israeli military conquest of the area in the June 1967 Six-Day war.

For Palestinians, for the United Nations, and for most European and many other countries, Qalandia Checkpoint is within the West Bank — as defined by the UN-negotiated cease-fire lines of 1949 [later known as the Green Line], which is not quite exactly, but still largely, the same line across which Israeli and Jordanian forces faced each other until 4 June 1967.

As such, according to the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice on “Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory“, posted here, in English + French, which was developed in response to a request from the United Nations General Assembly after Israel started building The Wall in mid-2002, and which was handed down by the ICJ in the Hague on 9 July 2004:

    “In the light of the material before it, the Court is not convinced that the construction of the wall along the route chosen was the only means to safeguard the interests of Israel against the peril which it has invoked as justification for that construction.[141.] The fact remains that Israel has to face numerous indiscriminate and deadly acts of violence against its civilian population. It has the right, and indeed the duty, to respond in order to protect the life of its citizens. The measures taken are bound nonetheless to remain in conformity with applicable international law.

    [142.] In conclusion, the Court considers that Israel cannot rely on a right of self-defence (or on a state of necessity in order to preclude the wrongfulness of the construction of the wall resulting from the considerations mentioned in paragraphs 122 and 137 above. The Court accordingly finds that the construction of the wall, and its associated régime, are contrary to international law

    [147.] Since the Court has concluded that the construction of the wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, and its associated régime, are contrary to various of Israel’s international obligations, it follows that the responsibility of that State is engaged under international law.

    [148.] The Court will now examine the legal consequences resulting from the violations of international law by Israel by distinguishing between, on the one hand, those arising for Israel and, on the other, those arising for other States and, where appropriate, for the United Nations.  The Court will begin by examining the legal consequences of those violations for Israel.

    [149.] The Court notes that Israel is first obliged to comply with the international obligations it has breached by the construction of the wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (see paragraphs 114-137 above). Consequently, Israel is bound to comply with its obligation to respect the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and its obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law. Furthermore, it must ensure freedom of access to the Holy Places that came under its control following the 1967 War (see paragraph 129 above).

    [150.] The Court observes that Israel also has an obligation to put an end to the violation of its international obligations flowing from the construction of the wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory…

    [151.] Israel accordingly has the obligation to cease forthwith the works of construction of the wall being built by it in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem. Moreover, in view of the Court’s finding (see paragraph 143 above) that Israel’s violations of its international obligations stem from the construction of the wall and from its associated régime, cessation of those violations entails the dismantling forthwith of those parts of that structure situated within the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem.

    All legislative and regulatory acts adopted with a view to its construction, and to the establishment of its associated régime, must forthwith be repealed or rendered ineffective, except in so far as such acts, by providing for compensation or other forms of reparation for the Palestinian population, may continue to be relevant for compliance by lsrael with the obligations referred to in paragraph 153 below.

    [152.] Moreover, given that the construction of the wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory has, inter alia, entailed the requisition and destruction of homes, businesses and agricultural holdings, the Court finds further that Israel has the obligation to make reparation for the damage caused to al1 the natural or legal persons concerned.”

    [153.]…The Court considers that Israel also has an obligation to compensate, in accordance with the applicable rules of international law, all natural or legal persons having suffered any form of material damage as a result of the wall’s construction…

    [155.] The Court would observe that the obligations violated by Israel include certain obligations erga omnes. As the Court indicated in the Barcelona Traction case, such obligations are by their very nature “the concern of al1 States” and, “In view of the importance of the rights involved, all States can be held to have a legal interest in their protection” (Barcelona Traction, Light and Power Company, Lirnited, Second Phase, Judgment, I.C.J. Reports 1970, p. 32, para. 33). The obligations erga omnes violated by Israel are the obligation to respect the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, and certain of its obligations
    under international humanitarian law.

    [156.] As regards the first of these, the Court has already observed (paragraph 88 above) that in the East Timor case, it described as ‘irreproachable’ the assertion that ‘the right of peoples to self-determination, as it evolved from the Charter and from United Nations practice, has an erga omnes character’ (I.C.J. Reports 1995, p. 102, para. 29). The Court would also recall that under the terms of General Assembly resolution 2625 (XX’V), already mentioned above (see paragraph 88), ‘Every State has the duty to promote, through joint and separate action, realization of the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, in accordance with the provisions of the Charter, and to render assistance to the United Nations in carrying out the responsibilities entrusted to it by the Charter regarding the implementation of the principle’ . . .

    [158.] The Court would also emphasize that Article 1 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, a provision common to the four Geneva Conventions, provides that “The High Contracting Parties undertake to respect and to ensure respect for the present Convention in al1 circumstances.” It follows from that provision that every State party to that Convention, whether or not it is a party to a specific conflict, is under an obligation to ensure that the requirements of the instruments in question are complied with.

    [159.] Given the character and the importance of the rights and obligations involved, the Court is of the view that all States are under an obligation not to recognize the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem. They are also under an obligation not to render aid or assistance in maintaining the situation created by such construction.  It is also for all States, while respecting the United Nations Charter and international law, to see to it that any impediment, resulting from the construction of the wall, to the exercise by the Palestinian people of its right to self-determination is brought to an end. In addition, all the States parties to the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949 are under an obligation, while respecting the United Nations Charter and international law, to ensure compliance by lsrael with international humanitarian law as embodied in that Convention.

    [160.] Finally, the (Court is of the view that the United Nations, and especially the General Assembly and the Security Council, should consider what further action is required to bring to an end the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall and the associated régime, taking due account of the present Advisory Opinion
    [162.] … The Court considers that it has a duty to draw the attention of the General Assembly, to which the present Opinion is addressed, to the need for these efforts to be encouraged with a view to achieving as soon as possible, on the basis of international law, a negotiated solution to the outstanding problems and the establishment of a Palestinian State, existing side by side with Israel and its other neighbours, with peace and security for all in the region.”

The UN General Asembly asked the ICJ for this Advisory Opinion on The Wall in order “to assist it in the proper exercise of its functions”…

We are still waiting.

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