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The Israeli Wall (Barrier) - A Sample MidEastWeb Dialog Thread

Note: This material is intended to give prospective members of our dialog group an idea of what the group is about, and does not necessarily represent opinions of MidEastWeb. The messages are arranged in chronological order, with the first one at the top. The Mideastwebdialog list is a closed list. Names of participants have been disguised to protect privacy.

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These messages were sent in July of 2004.

From P-

AL-AHRAM is an Egyptian weekly close to the President of Egypt.

[The remainder of this post is an article in Al Ahram, given below]

AL-AHRAM 22 - 28 July 2004 Issue No. 700 Rogue state

The world votes against the apartheid wall. By refusing to budge, Israel is becoming a pariah, writes Amira Howeidy


Israel received another slap in the face on Tuesday when the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly supported a resolution demanding that Israel comply with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) 9 July ruling to tear down the separation wall built on occupied Palestinian territory. Although a majority vote was guaranteed in advance -- secured by Arab and Islamic countries -- the Arab bloc achieved a moral and political victory by convincing the 25-nation European Union to support the resolution following days-long intensive lobbying efforts.

The Assembly convened at 4pm New York time on Tuesday only to suspend the session a few minutes later at the request of Holland, which currently holds the EU presidency, for further consultations by the European states. While France and Sweden were ready to sign the draft as it stood, Britain and Italy objected and demanded changes. The Europeans came dangerously close to voting individually, but eventually the consultations which lasted close to two hours succeeded in unifying them, after the Arabs included a provision calling on both Israelis and Palestinians to fulfill their obligations under the roadmap plan.

This resulted in an overwhelming vote of 150 to six. Opposition to the resolution came from Israel, the United States, Australia, and the Pacific island states of Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau. Ten countries abstained.

In its resolution, the Assembly demanded that Israel obey the ICJ's ruling, tear down the "illegal" wall and pay reparations for damages caused by its construction. It also called on all UN member states to comply with their obligations as stipulated by the ICJ, including the duty "not to recognize the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall in the occupied Palestinian territory, including in and around East Jerusalem" and "not to render aid or assistance in maintaining the situation created by such construction".

Although the Assembly's resolution is non- binding for Israel -- as is the advisory opinion issued by the ICJ -- it constitutes a political victory for the Palestinians, and equally a major blow for Israel. Although Israel and its very few supporters slammed the ICJ's ruling unacceptable and similarly lashed at Tuesday's resolution, the legal, political and moral weight of the decisions reached by the two bodies places Israel in a very weak, if not outright embarrassing situation.

So, in a classic example of Israel's constant contravention of global public opinion and international law, "the building of the fence will go on," in the defying words of Raanan Gissin, a senior adviser to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Nor will Israel "abdicate its inalienable right to self-defense," he said.

But Israel's own Justice Minister Yosef Lapid warned on 18 July that his state is on the verge of becoming an international pariah and urged the government not to ignore the ICJ ruling. "The Hague court, groups like Amnesty, and United Nations committees, act as a kind of global high court that, while they do not have to be liked, cannot be ignored," he said.

International bodies, which are quickly running out of patience with Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories, have put Israel under a legal blockade, the justice minister said. "If we don't respect human rights in the territories, we'll be putting ourselves in the situation in which South Africa found itself," he said.

And while the Israeli government vents its anger, the Palestinians -- despite the ongoing chLRs in Gaza -- had good reason to celebrate the Assembly vote. To the Palestinian UN observer Nasser Al-Kidwa, the resolution could be "the most important resolution of the General Assembly since the adoption of Resolution 181 of 1947", which split Palestine into Israeli and Arab lands. "It is time now, we believe, for implementation, for compliance and at a later stage for additional measures" if Israel does not comply with the resolution, he said after the vote.

At this stage, it is not clear what measures the Palestinians will take other than push for a Security Council resolution -- one which would undoubtedly be vetoed by the US -- but they may not do so any time soon. Reportedly, the Palestinian Authority is set to delay this measure until the US presidential elections take place in November, although Al-Kidwa last week said it is not too early to start seeking the imposition of sanctions on Israel.

The General Assembly asked the ICJ for its advisory opinion on the legal consequences of the construction of the wall in the occupied territories last December. Back then the EU, under pressure from Israel and the US, abstained from voting. But after the ICJ issued its opinion -- which also called on the Assembly to act upon its ruling -- the EU countries had no legitimate reason to abstain from voting.

The additions the EU made to the draft resolution were seen as a compromise between its sensitivity to the ICJ's opinion and its political considerations vis-^-vis Tel Aviv and Washington. It is no wonder thus that the final resolution that won the EU's consent added language reaffirming Israel's right to self-defence and called on the Palestinians to arrest potential attackers. The Arab bloc had to accept these additions which were not included in the original draft in order to guarantee the support of the EU, and with it the political weight of this bloc.

Deputy Chief of Israel's UN mission Arye Mekel said Israel was very sorry that the EU nations had "surrendered" to Palestinian dictates and added that it would be "difficult" to see how the Europeans could play any legitimate role in the peace process in light of Tuesday's vote.

Upon completion the wall will be 730 kilometres long. Some 90 per cent of its course deviates from Israel's 1967 borders, and unilaterally redraws and expands those borders. It cuts deep into the West Bank, isolating Palestinian communities into cantons, enclaves and "military zones". The Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza Strip -- among whom are almost 1.5 million refugees -- will be contained in what only amounts to 12 per cent of historic Palestine.

[End of Al-Ahram article]


From LR

P- ,

I suggest everyone takes a good look at a TRUE map of the wall route.

Even before recent changes (it got moved closer to the green-line last week) the "wall" route was taking about 12-15% of the west bank. With the new route this will be reduced to 7-8%.

Israel should offer land swap as part of the final peace agreement.




Israel's government did decide not to send to the ICJ a copy of the High Court decision.

Regarding land swaps, they can only come from a peace agreement or from an UN resolution (as the one that did fix the Israel-Lebanese border). Before that, the Geneva convention applies and facts on the ground are a violation of them.

Beyond that, it is impossible to have a "good look at a TRUE map of the wall route". Not only because it is not official (I think at least) but more important because, it can't give the details you need to judge: things are different if that field is owned by A or B.

Best P-


From: "S-"

Well, you can fool some of the people some of the time but not all the people all of the time. This is certainly the case with the Security Wall. How can Israel state that the wall is for defensive reasons only when facts on the ground prove otherwise? Israel is an occupying power for the simple reason that all its governments had legalized establishing Israeli settlements beyond the 1967 green line in the Palestinian heartland. Is this not "de facto colonization" or "occupation"? How can Israel expect the world of nations not to take this into consideration when passing judgment on Israel's building of a security wall which cuts into Palestinian lands, forming enclaves in order to protect the settlers beyond the green line?

A security fence or wall is desirable and essential for Israel's security while there is no Palestinian leadership with whom to conduct peace negotiations. The anarchy reigning in Palestinian street as a result of Arafat and his crony's corruption have made this axiom clear. However, the security fence ought to be built just within the green line and Israeli settlements beyond the green line dismantled. This of course means compensating the settlers financially in order to resettle them within the green line. Israel's case for security would then be far more credible to the outside world. At the moment, what Arik Sharon is offering is a sop and does not do much for Israel's credibility and even that cosmetic offer will probably not be carried out.


From A-


So in other words, you favor giving back the old city of Jerusalem and the university on Mt Scopus?

Since the ICJ also considers that West Jerusalem should be internationalized, I conclude that you favor moving the Knesset to Tel Aviv?

Also, you are willing to travel to Jerusalem via Shimshon, instead of through the Shaar Hagay road that goes through the "illegally occupied" West Bank?

The court did not say that a fence on the Israeli side of the Green Line would be OK. You concluded that it would be, but that is not necessarily the case. A-


From: LR


85% of the fence route is on the green-line or within 300 meters of it.

Is 300 meters enough for "defensive reasons" ? Isn't Israel allowed to build fortifications in an occupied land if it occupied it for self defense ? Those are all good questions that the ICJ did not bother to consider.

Here is an uptodate map:


Look at the red part Vs. the green line.

Or click on the map in:



From: C-

Hi, A bit ago, LR, you asked for information on areas which would be totally enclosed by the barrier. The UN map you sent shows a number of these. There are also areas where the map shows massive planned incursions into the WB. When I found Beit Hanina in one of the planned enclosed areas, I also noticed Beit Hanina outside of it! So a village is to be split and part of it walled off from the rest of the WB. A-Ram was showed as projected walled off on two sides of a triangle, with the north side fronting on a road. Meanwhile, the Israeli statement talks about all sorts of things, like minimal damage, restoration of land (settlers who are Torah observant should be shouting about the trees felled!), and all sorts of nice things. Double talk. Nero fiddled while Rome burned...



From I-

I agree that the idea that the fence puts limitations on Palestinians has some merit. But would you rather Israelis used violence and that collateral damage would increase? I can think of so many cases before the fence, when Israel sent in tanks and was attacked both by the media and by the international community. The fence isn't a convenient thing, that's true. But it minimize violence. So far no one else has thought of alternatives, including the critics of the fence. They all say it's bad and mean and horrible, but they don't suggest how Israel is to defend itself instead. I-



From C-:


You are talking in generalities. Have you read specifics on the effects of this fence on people's lives?

Have you considered that tens of thousands of Palestinians are on the "wrong side" (the Israeli side) of the fence you want for security. If those on the "right side" are dangerous, why not those on the "wrong side?"

I am not taking a position on the fence per se as I personally consider that a matter for Israelis to decide so long as it is inside of or on the Green Line (with modifications as essential in some areas A- and S- have been discussing.)

I think this cruelty, dehumanization, will hurt Israel in the long run. The traumatized and hungry children, who will grow up with hatred of Israel for its cruelty, will not forget. They are the future adults of what must in the long run, if there is to be peace, be Israel's neighbors, preferably Israel's partners.

Are you even ignoring the Israeli high court ruling on this?



From: I.: A few minutes ago, I saw in the news that Israel has rerouted the barrier, following court order, so there's nothing left to debate about. I-


From C-

Hi I,

Thanks for the updating the information on MEWD. I too saw in Ha'aretz that Israel was planning to release new maps. We haven't seen the maps yet so I think there may or may not be anything left to discuss. Let's see.






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