Published online by Cambridge University Press: 02 November 2005
The impartial and nearly unanimous advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice in the Wall case put the role of politics and diplomacy in the settlement of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict in its proper place, within the context of the rule of law. The significance of the opinion goes far beyond the illegality of the construction of the wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). The Court wisely and courageously seized the opportunity of its first direct involvement in the conflict to speak in plain legal terms about the tricky political problems that have ruined the Israeli–Palestinian peace process. It ascertained the present responsibility of the United Nations to protect Palestine's statehood. It affirmed the applicability of the prohibition of acquisition of Palestinian territory by Israel and confirmed the illegality of the Israeli settlements in the OPT. Moreover, the existence of the Palestinian people as the rightful claimant to the OPT is no longer open to question. One may only regret that the UN was not able to ask the Court to throw light on the Palestinian question at a much earlier stage.