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[haGalil onLine 2004 (Jan./Feb.): Zum Thema Sicherheitszaun]



If there is no fence, there is terror
an interview with Yosef (Tommy) Lapid

bitterlemons: If Israel had built the fence closer to the green line from the start, could it have prevented the current proceedings of the International Court of Justice at The Hague?

Lapid: I think that if we did not put the fence exactly on the green line the Palestinians would have tried anyhow.

bitterlemons: Will the Palestinian suicide bus bombing of February 22, 2004 in Jerusalem affect The Hague proceedings?

Lapid: That terrorist act has put the proceedings in The Hague into the proper context from the Israeli point of view. What we want is to prevent terrorism and what happened in Jerusalem proves that if there is no fence, there is terror.

bitterlemons: Israel is moving the fence toward the green line precisely when the court is meeting. Doesn't this signal that Israel somehow recognizes the court's jurisdiction?

Lapid: There was a lively discussion in the government on this subject. The minister of defense said that the timing was coincidental and not connected to The Hague. But this doesn't tell the entire story. When the proceedings at The Hague have concluded, I may voice some opinions differing from those of the government with regard to the path of the fence, in order to reduce disturbance to civilian life. But in principle we have the right to put the fence wherever our lives are in danger.

bitterlemons: Do you believe the cases currently pending before the Israel High Court of Justice regarding the fence could affect The Hague court decision?

Lapid: They certainly will affect the decisions of the Israeli government. We reject the jurisdiction of The Hague court but accept what our own court says.

bitterlemons: Israel decided not to appear at the hearing in The Hague. Yet the government of Israel has encouraged the Jewish Agency and various NGOs to demonstrate.

Lapid: I believe we should reject the jurisdiction of the court, but that if it doesn't accept our view we should appear. But the Cabinet decided against my view. As for the demonstrations in The Hague, we learned the lessons of [the anti-racism conference in] Durban, where the pro-Palestinian forces took over the street.

bitterlemons: What is Israel's best-case outcome at The Hague? Worst-case outcome?

Lapid: The best case would be that the court says it has no jurisdiction on such a political subject. The worst case is a negative opinion to the United Nations.

Yosef (Tommy) Lapid is deputy prime minister and minister of justice in the government of Israel and head of the Shinui Party.

[haGalil onLine 2004 (Jan./Feb.): Zum Thema Sicherheitszaun]

Published 23/2/2004 ©bitterlemons.org

Bitterlemons-international.org aspires to engender greater understanding about the Middle East region and open a new common space for world thinkers and political leaders to present their viewpoints and initiatives on the region. Editors Ghassan Khatib and Yossi Alpher can be reached at ghassan@bitterlemons-international.org and yossi@bitterlemons-international.org, respectively.

hagalil.com 24-02-2004



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