The government of Israel should ‘thoroughly examine’ the possibility of formally applying the Fourth Geneva Convention to the Palestinian territories, an Israeli Justice Ministry legal team has recommended.

The Fourth Geneva Convention governs the treatment of civilians in occupied territory.

The team recommended that the application of the international treaty should be done in a way that maintains Israel’s right to assume security responsibility.

The legal team was appointed by Israeli Attorney General Menachem Mazuz to examine the implications of the International Court of Justice’s July 9 ruling on the separation wall.

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 “occupied territories”

Prior to 1967 war, the West bank, including East Jerusalem was administrated by Jordan, the Gaza Strip was administrated by Egypt.

While Israel is one of the signatories of the fourth Geneva convention, it kept insisting that it does not accept the convention applicability to the Palestinian territories.

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 “occupied territories” 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 Israeli Justice Ministry team suggested that the government change its approach to the convention, to UN rapporteurs in the territories, and to the International Court. It called Israeli officials to refrain from attacking the court, and for demonstrating sensitivity to the (ICJ) ruling

The team also suggested that Israel should reconsider the way in which the army and other Israeli agencies operate in the territories.

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.

Concerning the separation wall, the team recommended building the fence as close as possible to the Green Line, taking into account security needs and the need to minimize harm to Palestinians.

Yet, the team declined to make recommendations concerning the separation wall route in Jerusalem, which Israel officially annexed immediately after the 1967 war.

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.