Down by Law: The High Court of Israel, International Law, and the Separation Wall
In June 2004, the High Court of Israel (HCI) ruled on the “Beit Sourik” case in which Palestinian villagers challenged the legality of Israel’s separation wall, which had been routed through their villages causing great hardship. This article examines the HCI decision—which upheld the legality of the wall under international law but mandated changes in its route—and the argumentation used. In the process, the article shows how the HCI, despite some disagreements with the state on narrow issues of administrative application, broadly supports the government’s policies of occupation, and it explains how the court interprets international law in order to do so. The article also contrasts the HCI’s ruling with the nearly simultaneous ruling of the International Court of Justice, highlighting the two courts’ very different approaches to international law.
Michael Lynk is assistant professor of law at the University of Western Ontario. He thanks Ardi Imseis, Susan Akram, and the anonymous peer reviewers for their insightful comments on earlier drafts of the article.