U.N. to Israel:
Tear down ‘the wall’

By Aaron Klein

UNITED NATIONS – The U.N. General Assembly last night overwhelmingly adopted a resolution demanding that Israel comply with a world court decision and tear down the security fence Israel is building in the West Bank.

The vote was 150 in favor, 6 opposed – including the United States – and 10 abstentions. The assembly’s vote, like the opinion of the International Court of Justice, is not legally binding, and Israel has pledged to continue building the fence, which it says saves lives.

“Thank God that the fate of Israel and of the Jewish people is not decided in this hall,” Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Dan Gillerman said, calling the resolution “one-sided and totally counterproductive. … It cannot but embolden the true enemies of the Israeli and Palestinian people.”

“It is simply outrageous to respond with such vigor to a measure that saves lives and responds with such casual indifference and apathy to the ongoing campaign of Palestinian terrorism that takes lives. This is not justice but a perversion of justice,” he said.

“Let there be no mistake, Israel has respect for the assembly, but it is precisely because of this respect that we cannot but be dismayed by what has happened here,” Gillerman added. “The assembly has missed another opportunity to make relevant contribution to the cause of peace. Here, no pressure is ever brought to bear against the terrorism that brought about the fence.”

U.N. Palestinian observer Nasr al-Kidwa called the vote “the most important vote since the U.N. partition vote in 1947.”

The U.N.’s International Court of Justice ruled July 9 “[the court] is not convinced that the specific course Israel has chosen for the wall was necessary to attain its security objectives.” The court demanded the Israel remove the barrier.

The court was asked to address the “legal consequences arising from the construction of the wall in the Occupied Palestinian territory.”

Israel officials said the language of the request itself prejudged the outcome: The Palestinians call the barrier a wall, despite the fact that 90 percent of it is actually a fence and could be moved. And officials said the international community does not consider the West Bank “Occupied Palestinian territory,” but rather “disputed territory” whose status must be determined in negotiations, as per Security Council Resolution 242, which has guided Israeli-Arab peace talks for the past 25 years.

Israel and American officials point to statistic to argue the security fence is working. There has not been a single suicide bombing in Israel proper since March, and there were only 2 this year, killing 19. At this time last year, before the security fence was constructed, there were 20 suicide bombings killing 141, while 2002 saw 25 such attacks in which 147 Israelis were killed.

In addition to the U.S. and Israel, Australia, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and Palau voted against the resolution. The U.S. called the vote “one-sided,” remarking it did not call on the Palestinians to fight terror.

Canada, Uruguay, Cameroon, Tonga, Vanuatu, El Salvador, Uganda, Nauru, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands abstained.