The principle judicial body of the United Nations today decided to open hearings next February on the legal consequences of Israel's construction of a separation barrier in the occupied Palestinian territory.
Issuing an order in response to a request from the General Assembly for an advisory opinion on the matter, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) also ruled that written statements should be submitted by 30 January 2004. In addition to UN Member States, Palestine was invited to provide documents to the Court.
Oral statements will begin on 23 February. Palestine, which has special observer status in the General Assembly, will be allowed to participate in that exercise as well.
Earlier this month, the Assembly, meeting in a resumption of its tenth emergency session on Palestine, adopted a resolution asking the ICJ to urgently render an opinion on "the legal consequences arising from the construction of the wall being built by Israel, the occupying Power, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem."
The Court was also asked to consider the rules and principles of international law, including the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention as well as relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions.