A number of webloggers have commented on the Interational Court of Justice ruling on the Israeli security wall. In the reading I’ve done, I haven’t seen any actual cites of international law, just references to the plight of the Palestinians. I think we can reasonably dispense with the notion that the ICJ is applying any sort of well recognized “law” to the case. This is probably because, as far as I can tell, all of the historical precedents are in the favor of Israel to do whatever it wants with its conquered territory, especially since the prior claimant (Jordan) renounced those claims decades ago. There is basically no land held by a government today that isn’t claimed by conquest within recorded history. Why the Israeli claims on the West Bank are ahistorically invalid that ICJ apparently doesn’t bother to explain.
But it could be that the ICJ doesn’t even pretend to make decisions based on law, but instead on “justice”, which is a far more flexible standard. However, one does wonder a bit about why the ICJ doesn’t get involved with situation in Sudan, which is ramping up to genocide. Or act against Mugabe in Zimbabwe whose looting policies are bringing starvation to millions. I guess those people just dont’ deserve justice.
One might also wonder, if the ICJ is so concerned about the plight of the Palestinians, the ICJ doesn’t indict Yassir Arafat for siphoning off hundreds of millions of dollars of international aid for those Palestinians. Or indict Fatah, Hamas and the PA for committing the war crime of using ambulances to transport combatants. The result of the latter is to cause Israel to stop ambulances at checkpoints thereby impeding the delivery of medical care to non-combatants (who do occasionally get rides in PA ambulances when the troops are resting).
Alternatively, the ICJ is ignoring the wall that Spain is building (since 1998!) in Africa to keep out immigrants. Perhaps Israel should claim that it’s not a security wall but an anti-immigration wall — then it would be OK, right?
I did run in to one person who took the ICJ seriously instead of either despising it or treating it as a collection of useful idiots. She was of the opinion that the ICJ didn’t claim jurisdation over nations, but would only step in with a country didn’t respond properly to a breech of international law. Of course, the ICJ gets to define “respond properly”, “breech” and (as we can see above) “international law”. The rule of “you can do what you like as long as I approve” is de facto a claim of jurisdiction regardless of how it’s packaged. This person thought well of the ICJ because she was from a country in which true war crimes occurred. However, she may sadly discover that the ICJ stands against that kind of thing the same way the Dutch stood against mass murder in Sebrenica.