Israel Deputy Attorney General Malchiel Balass said Tuesday that Israel may have to dismantle the West Bank separation wall if the Palestinians ‘reach a real decision’ to stop carrying out military attacks.
Balass told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that since security is the legal base to erect the separation wall, the barrier is regarded as a temporary security measure.
But, Balass added that a cessation of attacks would not be sufficient to consider dismantling the barrier, suggesting that in addition, a letter similar to the one the PLO handed to Israel in 1993 would be also required.
‘If the Palestinians reach a real decision to stop terrorism, a major legal question will arise surrounding the justification for the separation fence’s existence, and we may have to dismantle segments of it,’ Balass said.
Balass is one of the senior Justice Ministry officials in constant contact with the defense establishment and seam-line administration. Balass is also a member of the legal team set up by Attorney General Menachem Mazuz to examine the ramifications of the July 9 ruling on the wall by the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
Israeli Justice Ministry legal team recommended The government of Israel to ‘thoroughly examine’ the possibility of formally applying the Fourth Geneva Convention to the Palestinian territories.
Israel so far refrained from applying the fourth Geneva Convention, claiming that there was no recognized sovereign in the Palestinian areas before 1967, therefore they are not defined as Ã¢â‚¬Å“occupied territoriesÃ¢â‚¬Â
As the convention forbids transfer of civilian population to occupied territories, Israel faces a serious problem, namely the construction of hundreds of settlements and the transfer of hundreds of thousands of its citizens to the occupied Palestinian territories.
Accepting the fourth Geneva Convention is an official declaration that all settlements, including the ones built in east Jerusalem are illegal.
The International Court of Justice, in its July 9 ruling on the separation wall issue, clearly defined areas taken by Israel in the 1967 war as Ã¢â‚¬Å“occupied territoriesÃ¢â‚¬Â and demanded that Israel complies with the terms of international law.
The court called for the immediate dismantle of the West Bank sections of the separation wall and for compensating Palestinians for damage caused.
The team warned that the ICJ ruling could serve as a basis for anti-Israel activity in international forums, and could even lead to sanctions.
After 37 years in which Israel acted contrary to International law, it is unlikely that the government of Israel will be able to fulfill the obligations needed to come back as an international law abiding state.