The legal status of jerusalem following the ICJ advisory opinion on the separation barrier

Moshe Hirsch*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The present article analyzes the expected implications of the recent Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice on the legal status of East Jerusalem in accordance with international law. The Court stated that East Jerusalem is occupied territory and Israel is the occupying power in this territory. Generally, the Opinion lends support to the Palestinians' arguments and is likely to enhance their bargaining position in the future negotiations regarding the regime to be applied to East Jerusalem. Unlike the differential approach undertaken by the parties during the recent stage of negotiations (that suggested applying different legal regimes to the city's different areas), the Court's Opinion did not make distinction between the different parts of East Jerusalem. Analysis of these distinct approaches indicates that the differential approach (adopted during the recent negotiations)is more likely to enhance the prospects of attaining an agreed solution to the dispute over East Jerusalem. The Court's emphasis on the interests of third parties as well as the role of the UN tends to multilateralize the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians regarding the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. The impacts of possible multilateralization of the dispute over East Jerusalem on the prospects of achieving an agreed solution are not clear. In contrast to the Court's multilateral approach with regard to the general Israeli-Palestinian dispute, the analysis of Israel's obligation regarding access to the holy places is essentially premised on two bilateral treaties (the 1949 General Armistice Agreement and the 1994 Peace Treaty between Israel and Jordan). In light of the major importance of numerous holy places in other parts of the globe, a preferable legal analysis could have been founded on a reasonable interpretation of general international human rights instruments, particularly the 1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)298-315
Number of pages18
JournalIsrael Law Review
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2005


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