The Palestinian people consider the United Nations General Assembly resolution on the wall a victory and another step in the process of building an international legal case for a legitimate solution to the conflict. This resolution is also perceived as the political confirmation of the legal decision of the International Court of Justice. The significance of this resolution is that it explicitly confirms the illegality of the Israeli separation wall being built in the Palestinian territories as well as reconfirms the status of these territories as under illegal belligerent military occupation.
Since many European states abstained regarding the UNGA’s original resolution to take the issue to the ICJ, what may be even more significant in this resolution is that the Europeans voted for it. Once the ICJ delivered its explicit opinion, the European states voted in favor of considering this wall illegal and joined with the international community to call upon Israel to stop this project, remove the wall, and compensate the Palestinians who have suffered losses because of it.
This resolution opens many new possibilities for the Palestinian people to pursue in their legal struggle against the illegal occupation, which has proved to be the source of all violence in the conflict. One of the possibilities is to pursue individuals, companies, organizations, and governments on the international level that have any kind of involvement–technical, economic, or otherwise–in this illegal project. Another option is calling for sanctions against Israel if it refuses to abide by this resolution, which is based on the legal advice of the highest and most prestigious legal body in the world.
This resolution also impacts positively on the sometimes-tense internal Palestinian debate. On the one hand are those who advocate political and legal approaches to ending the occupation and its illegal practices, including the wall, and achieving the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people. On the other are those who insist that international legality has never moved us any nearer to those objectives, so they promote other approaches, including violent ones.
The international community can empower the Palestinian peace camp by showing all of us that resorting to legitimate approaches based on legal positions pays off. Allowing Israel to escape its obligations under a clear resolution based on a strong ICJ decision and to behave like a spoiled child and a country above international law will only encourage the extremist elements within Israeli politics. In power now, these elements give no weight to international legitimacy and continue resorting to violence and force as means to achieve their objectives. Tolerating Israeli defiance would be a recipe for continuing the vicious circle of violence that is a destabilizing factor on the regional level.