Since 2011, the Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas has been pursuing a status of “internationalization,” in which the PA seeks to join various international bodies as the “state of Palestine” and then file lawsuits against Israel. Currently, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)—which, for technical reasons, is the body doing the suing—has one complaint before the International Criminal Court (ICC) and another before the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Avi Bell notes that the claims it makes in the two courts regarding the status of Jerusalem contradict each other:
In the ICJ, the PLO claims that Jerusalem is an internationalized area called a “corpus separatum” [or “separate body”], over which no state can legally claim sovereignty. In the ICC, the PLO claims that just over half of Jerusalem (the part it calls “East Jerusalem”) is sovereign territory of what it calls the state of Palestine. Neither claim is meritorious. And more importantly, it’s impossible for both claims to be true simultaneously.
The PLO’s claim in the ICJ emerged in a lawsuit against the United States, in which the PLO claims that the U.S. violated the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations by locating its embassy within Israel’s capital. [It] claims (incorrectly) that any state can invoke the court’s jurisdiction when an embassy is located in the wrong place. The PLO then claims (also incorrectly) that the Vienna Convention only permits embassies to be located within the territory of the “receiving state,” and (incorrectly) that none of Jerusalem is territory of the “receiving state” because all of Jerusalem is a “corpus separatum”—an internationalized territory to which no state can claim sovereignty. The grounds on which the PLO claims this unique status for Jerusalem are unclear but appear to be a mistaken belief that the failed UN General Assembly [partition] proposals of 1947 and 1949 altered the law of territorial sovereignty.
It is an unfortunate commentary on the politicization of both courts that meritless PLO claims have gone as far as they have in the ICJ and ICC. . . . But it is far more damning that international legal observers have remained silent about the irreconcilable contradiction between the PLO’s arguments to the two courts.