The court also said the route of the barrier is not vital to the State's security, and that compensation must be paid to those Palestinians whose property was confiscated as a result of the construction.

Fourteen votes favoured the decision, with one sole opposition coming from American judge Thomas Buerghenthal.

"Israel is under an obligation to terminate its breaches of international law; it is under an obligation to cease forthwith the works of construction of the wall being built in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, to dismantle forthwith the structure therein situated," said the ruling.

"Israel is under an obligation to terminate its breaches of international law; it is under an obligation to cease forthwith the works of construction of the wall being built in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, to dismantle forthwith the structure therein situated"

World Court ruling

Palestinian analysts consider the ruling significant for a number of reasons, chief among which is the fact that it was made by the United Nations highest judicial authority-the ICJ. 

"It's important because it's the ICJ, also known as the world court, that issued the ruling, and it's [the General Assembly] who took the case to the ICJ.  So it's not Palestine against Israel, it's the world against Israel," said PLO legal advisor Anwar Darkazally.

Darkazally also says the court's decisions have had a real political impact in the past, citing the 1971 verdict against South Africa which eventually led to sanctions against that country and the fall of the Apartheid regime. 

Legal application

Both Israelis and Palestinians are expected to put into high gear their public relations and diplomacy engines in the days and weeks to come.

Palestinians, for their part, will attempt to push for the practical application of the Court's recommendation, although it is not yet clear whether they will pursue sanctions against Israel.

"It's very likely that the [PA] will take the ruling to the General Assembly, and try to get them to issue a resolution condemning Israel and calling for dismantling of the wall," Darkazally told Aljazeera.net. 

Palestinians call Israel's wall an
Apartheid Wall

Asked whether sanctions will be sought, the PLO legal advisor said it is most certainly an option, but one that may be pursued outside of the United Nations in order to avoid an inevitable American veto. 

Ultimately, added Darkazally, there are only two players who can make a significant change in the future of the Wall:  the American government, and the Israeli public.

"One can't ignore the Americans, so we will of course have to speak with them. A lot depends on whether they want to see this as an attempt by Palestinians to push forward the peace process peacefully, or not."

Grassroots efforts

Jamal Juma', coordinator of the grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, hailed the decision as historic in an interview with Aljazeera.net. Juma', along with Arab Member of Knesset (MK) Azmi Bishara, Chief Judge of the Islamic Court Shaikh Taysir Tamimi and the Archmandrite Attallah Hanna of the Greek Orthodox Church, were on a hunger strike in protest of the illegal wall for 7 days.

"What we ask as Palestinians of the international community now is to respect this decision and force Israel to implement it. It is not acceptable all that time that they will be above the law," said Juma' from his solidarity tent in northern Jerusalem where he is carrying out his protest.  

"What we ask as Palestinians of the international community now is to respect this decision and force Israel to implement it. It is not acceptable all that time that they will be above the law"

Jamal Juma',
Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign

"On our side, I think we should ask the international community to boycott Israel on different levels economically and diplomatically in order to pressure them to obey the decision."

Juma' says his group will now heighten its grassroots efforts by organising special campaigns both locally and internationally. Part of the campaign will include targeting international representatives and embassies located within Israel and asking them to follow up with the court’s decisions on a regular basis. 

Above the law?

Meanwhile, both Israel and the United States have chosen to simply ignore the authority of the Court to make such a ruling in the first place.   

Israeli Justice Minister Justice Yosef Lapid said the only rulings Israel will honour are those of its own courts, while a United States spokesperson brushed aside the decision in a press conference late on Friday, saying the ICJ is not the forum for such a politicised issue. 

Given such conscious ambivalence by two of the main players, the court's monumental decision runs the risk of being relegated to the lot of non-operative international rulings that have been passed against Israel in the past. But Juma' does not believe this will be the case this time around. 

"It's clear that Israel is trying to undermine the courts' decision, that's why they went to the US and got the assurance of a veto, and why they'll start an international campaign against the court."

"I think it will be a disaster if the world is going to be scared or undermined, but I expect this time it won't be like other times-the international atmosphere has changed in our favour."