Victor Kattan


From Coexistence to Conquest was a difficult book to write. The manuscript went through so many drafts, the title, and even the subject matter changed so many times that I could probably write an article on that process alone. Initially, I had intended not to write a history book. I was supposed to write a legal book on the International Court of Justice’s 2004 advisory opinion on the Wall. But my publisher protested; “Why write a book on just the Wall?” I was asked. If I was going to do that, I was told, I must address the conflict’s history from an international law perspective to place the proceedings in context. But I was not quite sure where I was supposed to start my story.

Ever since the International Court of Justice (ICJ) rendered its advisory opinion on the wall to the General Assembly on 9 July 2004, there have been calls from various quarters for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against Israel. Some of the questions that have arisen in this context are whether sanctions are legal, whether they will work against Israel, and if not, what alternative means are available to pressure Israel to comply with international law.

 On Friday 9 July, the International Court of Justice rendered an Advisory Opinion on the following question:

“What are 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, as described in the report of the Secretary-General, considering the rules and principles of international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, and relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions?”1