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Sunday, April 23, 2006

PA meets criteria to be classed sovereign state

In what could be a very significant court case, the Jerusalem District Court has ruled that the as a result of the unilateral disengagement surrender of Gaza, the 'Palestinian Authority' meets the criteria to be classified as a sovereign state.

The ruling was issued by Judge Boaz Okon, who is one of the most respected judges on the Jerusalem District Court (remember, folks, I'm a lawyer).

The ruling raises more questions than it answers: For example, if adopted by foreign courts - and if Israel's Supreme Court upholds the verdict there is a good chance that it will be - the PA may be able to claim sovereign immunity in lawsuits against it outside of Israel. It is not clear to me whether declaring the PA a 'sovereign' would limit terror victims' ability to sue the PLO or Fatah or Hamas, but that is certainly a possibility to the extent that they are regarded as identical. On the other hand, if the PA is a 'sovereign state,' then any terror attack launched against Israel from within its boundaries is an act of war, and Israel ought to be able to respond accordingly. But if the PA is a sovereign state, then we might lose the argument - that we have been making for years - that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to Judea, Samaria and Gaza. There are just a lot of legal implications here!

According to HaAretz:
The verdict was issued in a civil lawsuit filed by the Association of the Elon Moreh College against the State of Israel, the PA and other entities. The lawsuit pertains to lands purchased by the association from Palestinians in a part of the West Bank classified as Area A, which is under full Palestinian sovereignty.

The legal implications of the ruling are that verdicts issued under Israeli law cannot be enforced in territories under PA sovereignty. [There are many more legal implications than that. See above. CiJ]

The petitioners told the court that the lands were purchased based on an affidavit given by the village chief, later dismissed as fallacious. The association sued the village head for the monies paid in exchange for the lands but he refused to pay them back, forcing the claimants to ask the state to enforce the verdict in Palestinian territory.

The lawsuit therefore required the court to rule on the question of the legal status of territories in Area A. The verdict stipulated that the PA was vested with certain powers held by sovereign entities and therefore was not obligated to adhere to Israeli law.

The court ruled that the PA consists of population, territory and government, and, as it accumulates other aspects of a sovereign state, such as elected political authorities, international standing, police force and an independent currency, it will increasingly resemble a political entity.

Okon said also that the court observes the practice prevalent in international law of discouraging "duress among equals."

Since both Israel and the PA enjoy an equal legal standing, Israel cannot coerce the PA to implement in its territory verdicts issued under Israeli law. The PA also enjoys immunity from Israeli law for its actions as sovereign.

"One sovereign state does not rule over another sovereign state and does not put it on trial," Okon said in the verdict. "Even if one state does not recognize the other entity as a sovereign state it is not exempt from respecting the rights of that entity by force of international law."


At 10:54 PM, Blogger Soccer Dad said...

I believe that you're absolutely right about the effect on civil suits vs. the PA.
Search on "statehood."


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