Did the US accept the ruling or reject it? I'm curious given the fact that the US judge in his dissenting opinion (though I believe it's not called a dissent in this case) wrote that the border wall and settlements were illegal. Given that their own judge gave this opinion, what was the governmental reaction?


From Attacks Against the World Court by Bush, Kerry, and Congress Reveal Growing Bipartisan Hostility to International Law by Stephen Zunes:

On July 9, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) determined that the Israeli government’s construction of a separation wall running through the occupied Palestinian West Bank was illegal. Among other things, the ICJ noted that the construction of the first 125 miles of the proposed 450-mile barrier “has involved the confiscation and destruction of Palestinian land and resources, the disruption of the lives of the thousands of protected civilians and the de facto annexation of large areas of territory.” The court called on Israel to cease construction of the wall, to dismantle what has already been built in areas beyond Israel’s internationally recognized border, and to compensate Palestinians who have suffered losses as a result of the wall’s construction.

The vote was 14-1, a not-unexpected margin, given the overwhelming consensus of international legal experts regarding the responsibilities of occupying powers. The majority included the highly respected conservative British jurist, Rosalyn Higgins; the sole dissenter was the American judge, Thomas Buergenthal.

The US political reaction was overwhelmingly and unanimously negative. Both the president George Bush and the Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry denounced the ruling and both disputed whether the International Court of Justice has jurisdiction:

Despite the seemingly clear-cut nature of the ruling however, the Bush administration, Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, and an overwhelming bipartisan majority of Congress have all gone on record denouncing the verdict. Never before has there been such a unified negative response by America’s political leadership to a decision by the world’s highest court.

[...] Both Republicans and Democrats have determined that any effort to raise legal questions regarding the actions of occupying powers must be forcefully challenged.

The Bush administration quickly challenged the World Court’s authority by questioning whether international law should even be applied to Israeli-occupied territories. White House spokesman Scott McClellan stated, “We do not believe that it is the appropriate forum to resolve what is a political issue.” Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry concurred, arguing: “It is not a matter for the ICJ. … I do not believe that the ICJ should [have] even been considering this issue, given that they do not have jurisdiction.”

In fact, Kerry appears to have been even more critical than Bush:

Both Kerry and Bush stated that they were “deeply disappointed” by the World Court’s ruling, but Kerry went on to claim that “Israel’s fence is a legitimate response to terror that only exists in response to the wave of terror attacks against Israel. The fence is an important tool in Israel’s fight against terrorism.” At least President Bush was able to say: “I think the wall is a problem. It is very difficult to develop confidence between the Palestinians and the Israelis with a wall snaking through the West Bank.”

Further cementing his position, Kerry joined 78 senators—including his running mate, Senator John Edwards of North Carolina—in signing a strongly worded letter to Kofi Annan criticizing the UN secretary general for backing the General Assembly’s decision to ask the ICJ to consider the legal questions involved. In the letter, Kerry, Edwards, and their Senate colleagues declared that the wall was a justifiable and necessary defensive measure by Israel and that questioning Israel’s policy cast doubt on the chief UN official’s opposition to terrorism.

As the article points out, the matter went to the ICJ precisely because the threat of an American veto in the Security council prevented a UN resolution about the matter to pass.


In addition to the previous answer, I would like to point out that both the USA and Israel believe that democratic countries that have their own viable court system which is independent from the political system, should preferably not be subject to any International Court.

As a ramification of this principle, not the USA and nor Israel have ever submitted themselves to the International Criminal Court (The ICC).

Although the USA used to be a member state of the International Court of Justice (The ICJ), The USA - ICJ relationship has been quite grim ever since its inception and as a result the US withdrew its submittance in 1985.

See https://fas.org/sgp/crs/row/LSB10206.pdf?&~nfopt(fileDistorted=8557405207679503&uploadEmbeddedImages=1)

If you want me to elaborate more on this matter, please write in comments.

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