The Hague Statement of Jurists on the Israel-Palestine Conflict
30 November 2017
The original version of The Hague Statement of jurists on the Israel-Palestine conflict was released on
31st October 2017. It is available on the website www.thinc.info. This paper is an extension of the
original version, including maps and transcripts of (excerpts from) external and historic documents.
On 23rd December 2016, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) adopted Resolution 2334 which contains a number of statements of law and fact concerning Israel, the “two-State solution” and “the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967”. In particular, the Security Council –
• referred to “the obligation of Israel, the occupying Power, to abide scrupulously by its legal obligations and responsibilities under the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949”;
• condemned “all measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, including, inter alia, the construction and expansion of settlements, transfer of Israeli settlers, confiscation of land, demolition of homes and displacement of Palestinian civilians, in violation of international humanitarian law and relevant resolutions”;
• reaffirmed “that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law”, and demanded that Israel “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities” in these territories and “fully respect all of its legal obligations in this regard”;
• denied any “recogni[tion to] changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties through negotiation”;
• affirmed that Israel’s establishment of settlements is “a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace”, stressed that “cessation of all settlement activity is essential for salvaging the two-State solution”, and called upon the parties to demonstrate “through policies and actions a genuine commitment to the two-State solution”; and
• called upon all States “to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967”.
The Security Council referred specifically to the 2004 Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on “The Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory” (“the Advisory Opinion”) as support for these assertions.
On 28th and 29th June 2017, twenty-four (24) international lawyers and experts in the field of international law from twelve nations convened in the Peace Palace in The Hague at the invitation of The Hague Initiative for International Cooperation (thinc.) and the International Conference for Truth, Justice and Peace (ICTIP) to discuss the legal implications of UNSC Resolution 2334 (“the Meeting”). They examined the extent to which this resolution and the Advisory Opinion should be considered to have resolved the long-standing dispute about sovereignty in these territories, and whether extant legal doctrine and practice support the conclusions of the Security Council and ICJ in the event their pronouncements could not be considered to have resolved these issues. During the Meeting, the participating jurists and other participants in the discussion investigated the interpretation and use of international law by the UNSC and ICJ, and examined the role that international law plays and should play in facilitating a peaceful resolution of the Israel-Palestine dispute.
The Meeting was conducted under Chatham House Rules. The participants agreed to the issuance of a statement by the conveners of the meeting which summarized the conversation and the conclusions reached (the “Statement”). They agreed that the summary would represent the sense of the Meeting, while not binding any participant to the Statement.
The jurists whose names are listed in the appendix have all participated in the Meeting. Other experts in international law, who did not participate in the discussion, have since endorsed this Statement.
The participating jurists strongly urge a review of the legal issues raised by the ICJ Advisory Opinion and Security Council Resolution 2334. They found that - for various reasons - the processes leading to the 2004 Opinion and Resolution 2334 fell short of an open, balanced and thorough consideration of all the relevant factual and legal issues. This resulted in legal findings that did not adequately take into account the legal, historical, political and military complexities of these territories and peoples. This is reflected, for example, in the remark of Judge Higgins in her Separate Opinion, that “the law, history and politics of the Israel-Palestine dispute is immensely complex … Context is usually important in legal determinations … I find the ‘history’ as recounted by the Court … as neither balanced nor satisfactory”.
It is the firm view of the participating jurists that such a review is necessary in order to achieve, in accordance with the UN Charter, a peaceful settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict based on the principles of international law.
The Hague, 31st October 2017
The Hague Initiative for International Cooperation
A.E.L. Tucker, Director
P.J. Hoogendoorn, Secretary