Palestine Statehood and International Law

Palestine statehood and international law

The November 2012 action of the UN General Assembly in designating Palestine’s UN observer mission as that of a state is fully justified in law. Palestine has long been a state, even as control over its territory has changed hands. This formal acceptance of that fact allows Palestine to participate more fully as a member of the international community. The General Assembly action makes clear that Palestine statehood does not depend on a successful completion of negotiations between Palestine and Israel. The path is open for Palestine membership in international organizations and for its accession to major multilateral treaties through which it can pursue its legitimate interests. The path is likewise open for the International Criminal Court to investigate war crimes in Palestine, in particular the war crime of facilitating civilian settlements in territory under belligerent occupation.

Policy Implications:

  • Palestine is now poised for admission to the United Nations as a member state. That admission should be effected by the UN General Assembly, even if the UN Security Council fails to make a favorable recommendation.

  • The major powers that to date have not accorded diplomatic recognition to Palestine should do so at the earliest opportunity.

  • The United States should cease exacting financial sanctions against international organizations that admit Palestine to membership.

  • The International Criminal Court should initiate investigation of war crimes committed in Palestine.

  • The UN Security Council should take decisive action to compel Israel to surrender its control of Palestine territory.