70 Am. U. L. Rev. 211 (2020).
* Pronouns: They/Them/Theirs; Articles Editor, American University Law Review, Volume 70; J.D. Candidate, May 2022, American University Washington College of Law, Evening Division; B.A., Political Science, Goucher College. I would like to thank Rachel Bruce for her invaluable guidance and editing, and Geoff Gilbert for the hours of conversation that were essential in the formulation of this Comment, and for loaning me his books. I am grateful to the Law Review staff for their hours of hard work refining this Comment.
If—and most likely when—Israel moves forward with annexation, Palestinian citizens in the annexed territory theoretically should gain additional rights under the international human rights treaties that Israel is a party to, namely, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). However, despite a 2004 advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice finding that Israel exercised a critical amount of effective control in the Palestinian territories to not only subject Israel to liability for violations of its treaty obligations, but also hold it liable for affirmatively upholding the rights of Palestinians in the occupied territories, Israel has thus far escaped any liability. Israel deploys a complex legal argument in order to exempt itself from applying either international human rights law or international humanitarian law to the Palestinian territories, and it argues for a narrow reading of the ICCPR’s scope clause that would also release it from its obligations under the Covenant.
If or when Israel annexes the Jordan River Valley, the ICCPR will apply in the annexed territory, holding Israel liable for future violations of the principles of the ICCPR and requiring it to uphold its positive obligations to protect the human rights of both the Palestinian and Israeli citizens of the Jordan River Valley. Building on a body of established international jurisprudence, the situation warrants a broad reading of the ICCPR’s scope clause due both to the effective control Israel asserts over the territory and the fulfilment of the Covenant’s object and purpose. By stating that it will “apply sovereignty,” Israel has defeated its own defenses to the application of the ICCPR to the Palestinian territories. Unfortunately, an analysis of Israeli Supreme Court Jurisprudence reveals that despite the strong argument in favor of the ICCPR’s application, international law lacks a legal status in Israel, and therefore the Palestinian citizens of the Jordan River Valley will be unlikely to find relief in Israeli courts.