'The sum of the parts': contribution to a Roundtable on the Palestine bid for statehood at the UN

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From one perspective the Middle East lends itself as a macabre mise-en-scene where the triumph of realpolitik over the legitimacies of international law can be continually re-staged. To be sure, at least two sovereign states seem to go their own way, even in the face of rampant and valid international criticism—the end of a construction freeze on illegal settlements and failures to condemn clearly illustrate this point. However, two can play at that game. The US veto of the October 2003 draft Security Council resolution declaring as illegal Israel’s construction of its security fence, beyond the 1949 Green Line and into the Occupied Territories, illustrated raw power and military strength in action—the very definition of hegemony. However, even giants always have weaknesses. Cyclops springs to mind. A 360 degree perspective would have taken into account that there were other powerful institutions in the metaphorical UN room besides the Security Council. The power and protection of a permanent member’s veto could not deter the UN General Assembly’s request for an Advisory Opinion from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the legality of the wall. Of course, even the ICJ’s eventual condemnation in 2004 did not actually halt the wall’s construction but what it did was make clear the illegality of Israel’s action. Further, the court made clear that there was no doubting the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHuman Rights and Human Welfare
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011


  • Palestine
  • United Nations
  • Israel
  • self determination


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