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



Mr. Sharon, tear this wall down!
by Ghassan Khatib

The Palestinian presentation at The International Court of Justice in The Hague is the first move in a tense game of international chess. With the battle being fought in the court itself and on the playing field of public opinion, it is imperative that we keep a focus on a few things.

When the United Nations General Assembly asked the court to provide an advisory opinion on the legality of the route of Israel’s wall, it clearly marked the beginning of the vindication of the Palestinian position which is in step with international legitimacy and law. The Israeli refusal to accept the jurisdiction of the court reinforces what the Palestinians have been saying all along. In order to understand that the hearings in The Hague, we must put the whole discussion in perspective.

>From the Palestinian point of view, the separation wall is very clearly seen as part and parcel of the Israeli policy of settlement expansion. The path in which the wall is being built is not dictated by Israel’s security needs, but the needs of the settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. The other purpose is to squeeze the maximum number of Palestinians into crowded cantons or enclaves in order to create a “green field” for the expansion of the settlements, hence, the expansion of Israel in the occupied territories.

Second of all, the separation wall project is a blatant attempt by the Israeli government to prejudice the outcome of any meaningful negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians in the future. It is designed to preempt the vital need to create a viable, contiguous, and democratic Palestinian state in the occupied territories based on international legality (the June 1967 borders).

Thirdly, it is also aimed at destroying the already-limping Palestinian economy. By suffocating any movement of people and goods, the Israelis are finishing off any rays of economic hope. Looking at the 2003 fourth quarter statistics (the last available from the Palestinian Bureau of Statistics), it becomes clear that the economic situation in the Jenin, Tulkarem, and Qalqilia areas has deteriorated dramatically since the completion of the wall in those regions. The wall has eaten up large swaths of land designated for agriculture and prevented people from farming or tending their lands. It has also had a drastic negative effect on employment in an area which already has suffered a great deal over the past three years due to Israeli-imposed restrictions. Just when we thought the occupation authority’s draconian measures couldn’t get worse, the wall came up. Poverty in these areas has worsened to a great extent, providing ample fodder for extremist elements in Palestinian soc! iety.

The paean that the separation wall provides security for Israel and Israelis is completely false. Real security can only be achieved through the peaceful relations of neighbors. By insisting on erecting a wall which severely adds to the suffering of the Palestinian civilian population, Israel is actively creating desperation and despair among the Palestinians. Israel’s security would have been better served if it had invested those hundreds of millions of dollars into building bridges of cooperation instead of walls of separation.

We look at the proceedings in The Hague anxiously, hoping that an advisory opinion based on international law will be the first step towards bringing down this monstrosity. If the international community’s member states adhere to the findings of the court, we can only hope that they will take the side of legality and implement the court’s advice. It will be a sunny day when the US president or the leader of a European country takes the example of the Berlin Wall and paraphrases former US President Ronald Reagan shouting, “Mr. Sharon, tear this wall down!”

Ghassan Khatib is minister of labor in the Palestinian Authority cabinet. He has served for many years as a political analyst and media contact.

Of fences, boycotts and international courts
by Yossi Alpher

[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 27-02-2004



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