Israel’s West Bank barrier

July 7, 2008

west-bank-barrier.jpg Four years ago this week, on July 9, 2004, the International Court of Justice in The Hague, known as the World Court, ruled in an advisory opinion that the wall and fence barrier which Israel was building in the West Bank was illegal under international law and that Palestinians affected by it should be compensated. Israel responded  by dismissing the decision as politically motivated and defended the barrier, which it calls the “security fence”, as an effective response to “Palestinian terrorism”. Israel says the barrier, whose projected route of fences and walls snakes through the West Bank for over 700 km, has saved Israeli lives by preventing a continuation of attacks, notably suicide bombings.

 The United Nations General Assembly voted  later in July 2004 to demand that Israel comply with the decision of the World Court. Following the court ruling, the Quartet of Middle East peace mediators – the United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia – also reaffirmed an earlier statement which said “We note the Government of Israel’s pledge that the barrier is a security rather than political barrier and should be temporary rather than permanent. We continue to note with great concern the actual and proposed route of the barrier, particularly as it results in confiscation of Palestinian land, cuts off the movement of people and groups, and undermines Palestinians’ trust in the roadmap (peace) process by appearing to prejudge the final borders of the future Palestinian state.”

 There is continued international pressure from otherwise friendly governments who say Israel should build on its own land, not occupied Palestinian territory, and should evacuate Jewish settlements in the West Bank. There have also been repeated complaints from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during peace negotiations resumed under U.S. sponsorship last year.

 But Israel has continued to work on the barrier. The Israeli Supreme Court ordered part of the route to be change last year in a judgment which found in favour of Palestinians in the town of Bilin who had complained the barrier would cut their farmland off from their homes. Critics like the Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem say that little has changed on the ground, however. It has gathered testimonies of Palestinians recounting hardships, including loss of land and access to facilities, as a result of the construction.

 As the fourth anniversary of the World Court decision approaches, Israeli troops have responded to anti-barrier protests near Nilin, 20 km west of Tel Aviv, by sealing off  the West Bank town since Friday. Days after a Palestinian construction worker killed three Israelis with a bulldozer  on one of Jewish west Jerusalem’s busiest streets, the arguments about land and security show no sign of abating. The killer, Hosam Dwayyat, was a resident of a West Bank village that Israel annexed to its Jerusalem Municipality after it occupied the West Bank and Arab East Jerusalem in 1967. As a result, like another Palestinian who killed Israelis in Jerusalem this year, he lived on the Israeli side of the barrier.

 Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s government is considering demolishing Dwayyat’s family home as a deterrent. One of his closest allies suggested the time had come to separate Arab areas from Jewish parts of Jerusalem - though Israel hopes to maintain control of Jerusalem as its ‘united’ capital, a status that has not been recognised internationally. Many Israelis accused the government and police of failures in allowing Dwayyat to mount his attack – including columnist Caroline Glick in the Jerusalem Post. But some Israelis question the long-term practicality of sealing their state off from their Palestinian neighbours, as columnist Akiva Eldar, writing in the left-leaning Haaretz newspaper notes. As another anniversary passes in the Middle East, there is no sign of an end to complex questions involving competing demands for resources and security among the various communities.          

4 comments

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Israel will have us believe the barrier is only a temporary one designed to thwart ‘Palestinian terror’. This is utter nonsense.

The concrete fence serves no other purpose other than to extinguish the very idea of ‘Palestine’. Its route is designed to cut the West Bank into 3 distinct ghettos, accessible only with Israeli permission. The racist settlements as well West Bank aquifers will remain under Israel’s sovereignty.

There is no difference between Israel’s actions in the occupied territories and those implemented by South Africa under Apartheid. Both viewed the indigenous population as sub-human, and viewed any attempts to resist as ‘terrorism’. Unlike South Africa, Israel believes treating the Palestinians as surplus humanity has been an effective policy. In fact, it’s morally repugnant.

Israel’s vision of security is simply a mirage until it realises that 4 decades of brutal occupation is the worst form of terror imaginable.

Posted by Nu'man El-Bakri | Report as abusive

Frankly, Mr. & Mrs. Reader, I don’t know why this web log article provides a chronology of the Berlin Wall…excuse me…security fence. It’s a useless exercise. The U.N. and its resolutions are impotent when it comes to the United States and Israel. That’s just the way of it. Why do you think that the Arab Muslim world, e.g., Iran, Iraq et al, ignore the U.N. as well?

The wall is indirectly being paid for by U.S. taxpayers. You don’t think that the Israeli national budget has the extra money to pay for something like this do you? Incidentally, a similar separation barrier was built around the Gaza Strip beginning in 1994, after the signing of the Oslo Accords (PM Rabin’s idea).

It’s as I have repeatedly said. The Jews and Muslims in this tiny pocket of SW Asia will be at each other’s throats until the Christian judgment day (according to the Christians). This wall is part & parcel of the U.S. government’s own confusion over separation of church & state here at home…thus resulting in tacit support for the construction of the wall by the theocratic state of Israel.

I refer you to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1949_Armist ice_Agreements#Cease-fire_line_vs._perma nent_border.

Both Jewish Israel and Muslim Palestine are theocratic by nature, i.e., church & state are one and the same. The U.S. has come closer to becoming theocratic during the past 8 years, than in its entire history.

It is a dangerous mix, this business of religion and government. That’s why what was “missed” by the 39 framers of the U.S. Constitution, was “taken care of” by the U.S. 1st Congress with the Bill of Rights on September 25, 1789 (ratified December 15th). Specifically, I’m referring to the First Amendment (of ten).

The U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights, therefore, refuses to endorse such a volatile mix. But then the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights do not endorse many things that have been implemented over the past 8 years by the executive, legislative…and even judicial branches of government…whose roles and checks & balances are clearly laid out in Articles I, II & III of said Constitution.

At least those roles are clear to me anyway. I refer you to http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charter s/constitution_transcript.html.

OK Jack

P.S. In light of the creation of the modern Jewish state in 1947 by the United Nations (and today’s 21st Century wall), the 1945 Preamble to the U.N. Charter is worth pondering, I think:
WE THE PEOPLES OF THE UNITED NATIONS DETERMINED
…to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind, and
…to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and
…to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and
…to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,
AND FOR THESE ENDS
…to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours, and
…to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security, and
…to ensure, by the acceptance of principles and the institution of methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest, and
…to employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples,
HAVE RESOLVED TO COMBINE OUR EFFORTS TO ACCOMPLISH THESE AIMS
Accordingly, our respective Governments, through representatives assembled in the city of San Francisco, who have exhibited their full powers found to be in good and due form, have agreed to the present Charter of the United Nations and do hereby establish an international organization to be known as the United Nations.

My God, how can you compare Israel’sd efence on an equal level with apartheid. The ANC was not blowing up hundreds of innocent civilians a year as suicide bomber’s and quite often enough they could poice themselves against radicals.
Ig Fatah and Hama’s policed themselves and kept hte suicide bombers at bay Israel would nothave to build a fence for their security. We laways hear about the so called “Jewish -controleed media” but I never hear outcry from the media or the Muslim theocracies when hundreds of Israeli’s are maimed or murdered, only when Israel retaliates in it’s defence.
Iran , Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, UAE, all these contires who attack Israel for tyranny and zionism don’t even have the basic decency to provide their citizens with the one most important thing that so many across the world have died for and that is a vote.
Iran’s about as democratic as the Soviet Union was, only difference at least the Soviet’s had logic and not extremist insanity ontheir side.
The Palestinians deserve a state of their own however, they first must show they can police themselves and keep the suicide bombers and rcoket attacksnot at a minimum but at a zero.

Posted by BigChaddy | Report as abusive

Tear that flaming wall down!

Time to make peace NOT war!

Posted by The Truth Is... | Report as abusive