Irish Examiner

World Court rules Israeli security barrier is illegal
10 July 2004
By Arthur Max

THE World Court said yesterday that Israel's barrier in the West Bank is illegal and should be torn down.
The court also called on the United Nations to stop a project it said had illegally imposed hardship on thousands of Palestinians

The court in the Hague dismissed Israel's arguments that the barrier was essential for its security and said the infringement on Palestinians' ability to move freely was unjustified by arguments of military necessity.

The ruling was a rebuff not only to Israel deepening Israelis' perception that the world does not appreciate the terror threat they face but also to the US and several European nations which had argued that the issue should not be before the court.

The Palestinians had viewed it as important international support against a stronger rival.

"Israel is under an obligation to terminate its breaches of international law. It is under an obligation to cease forthwith the works of construction of the wall being built in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, to dismantle forthwith the structure therein situated," said the ruling, read by court president Shi Jiuyong of China.

The court also ordered Israel to pay reparations to Palestinians harmed by the barrier and return the land seized to construct it.

"The court is of the view that the United Nations, and especially the General Assembly and the Security Council, should consider what further action is required to bring to an end the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall," the judgement said.

The judges were unexpectedly united in backing the decisions, by a vote of 14-1 for most paragraphs of the decision, with only the American judge dissenting.

The court also said all countries "are under an obligation not to recognise the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall and not to render aid or assistance in maintaining the situation created by such construction".

In Washington, White House spokesman Scott McClellan denounced the decision, saying the US believed the dispute should be resolved politically.

At the Palestinians' request, the UN General Assembly asked the World Court last December for its opinion on the legality of the barrier a 425-mile long complex of high concrete walls, razor-wire fences, trenches and watch towers. About a quarter has been completed, much of it close to the pre-1967 border, but some dipping into the West Bank.

The court said the barrier was routed in a way that would encompass 80% of the Israeli settlers in the West Bank, while cutting off more than 230,000 Palestinians from their surrounding areas.

Despite Israel's protests that the barrier was temporary and not designed as a political boundary, the court said it could amount to "de facto annexation".

It said the building of the barrier "severely impedes the exercise of the Palestinian people of its right to self-determination, and therefore is a breach of Israel's obligation to the respect of that right".

The 15-member court's advisory opinions are nonbinding, but bear moral and historic weight.

In one brief reference, the court said the construction of the barrier should be seen in the context of "the succession of armed conflicts, acts of indiscriminate violence and repressive measures" since 1947, when Israel declared itself a state.

The court dismissed Israel's objections that the UN General Assembly acted irregularly in asking the court for an opinion.

It also rebuffed the argument that the court's interference could disrupt Middle East peace efforts, and that the issue was political, not legal.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?