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Israel in the docks « Previous | |Next »
July 10, 2004

NewsIsrael1.jpg
A stretch of the barrier that Israel is building in the West Bank, in the village of Sawahreh (Agence France-Presse—Getty Images).

Whilst Israel continues to build more settlements than it dismantles the International Court of Justice at The Hague has ruled against Israel's security wall.

The IJC has condemned Israel's West Bank barrier saying that it had illegally imposed hardship on thousands of Palestinians; that it is contrary to international law; and that with those Palestinaians who have already suffered because their land has been confiscated for the construction of 450-mile barrier should be compensated. The International Court held that the construction of the wall and its associate regime creates a 'fait accompli' on the ground that could well become permanent, in which case ... it would be tantamount to de facto annexation. It said that the wall should be torn down.

The ruling by the international court of justice is non-binding. The findings has already been rejected by Israel as politicised and one-sided. Washington has indicated that it will veto any security council resolution in support of enforcing the world court's decision.

What is significant about the ICJ ruling is that it sees the wall as a potential constraint on the Palestinian right of self-determination--something the Israeli High Court of Justice did not consider in its deliberations. About 120 miles of the 437-mile barrier have been completed since construction started about two years ago. Though parts of the fence, both built and unbuilt, run along Israel's pre-1967 border, a large part of the barrier's route is inside the Palestinian West Bank. It was this portion that was the object of the International Court's 64-page decision, and Israel's Supreme Court. The latter's ruling, which found the concept of the fence legal, ordered the rerouting of a portion of it because it caused too much hardship on Palestinians.

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Protesting the Wall, Khalil Abu Arafeh, Alquds, 7/8/04

The key strategic question is: Does Sharon's security wall makes a viable Palestinian state impossible? The ICJ answered this. It acknowledged that Israel had "the right, and indeed the duty, to respond in order to protect the life of its citizens". However, the IJC also said that the path of the barrier could work toward creating a "de facto annexation" of Palestinian land by Israel through the creation of "a fait accompli on the ground that could well become permanent."

The wall arises because the Israeli right cannot accept a solution that abandons the core Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Hence we have Sharon's disengagement plans for the Gaza strip depending on accommodating the settlements in the West Bank. That puts into question the view that Ariel Sharon is fighting the good fight to withdraw Israeli troops and settlers from Gaza and struggling against recalcitrant rightwing Likud ministers to do so.

What is coming into the foreground is the view that Israel's absorption and Judaization of the occupied territories are increasingly rendering a two-state solution meaningless.

July 13
Eric Wilson, in this article in the Sydney Morning Herald, says that
the Israel barrier would be illegal if it could be shown to breach a treaty obligation of some kind. Does it? Wilson says:


"Here, the ICJ followed the lead of the Israeli Supreme Court, which grounded part of its ruling on the domestic status of both the 1907 Hague Regulations and the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention governing the protection of civilians during wartime.

The ICJ went further and considered Israel to be in breach of two international covenants on civil and political rights, and on economic, social and cultural rights, both treaties deemed by the World Court to be of universal application.

If a fortification within a zone of occupation has a harmful effect upon any population disproportionate to otherwise lawful self-defensive measures, or there are discriminatory effects on the basis of ethnic identity, then it breaches international law."

Wilson says that this is the impact of Israel's barrier. "It restricts the rights and freedoms of Palestinians within their territory, while seeking to ensure that settlers on illegal settlements can enjoy those rights and freedoms."

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 4:06 PM | | Comments (16)
Comments

Comments

The Warsaw Ghetto sticks in my mind everytime I see this wall.

The Israelis have certainly learnt from the Germans. I wonder what their next step is?

yes I also find European history repeating itself in an inverted form in the Middle East.

Race is used so much by the Israeli right to attack the critics of Likud policies and actions. Likud policies are identified with Israel, so any criticism of Likud policies and actions is taken to be a criticism of Israel. The Israeli left is simply dismissed.

The initial step is increasing settlement of the West Bank by Israeli settlers. That is quietly going on whilst the talk is about disengagement from Gaza. That means a strengthening of the colonial regime of occupation.

That strenthening of a colonial regime of occupation is another way European history is being repeated in the Middle East.

What a load of crap. Your historical ignorance constitutes the foundation for your moral sanctimony. The former is pathetic, the latter obnoxious. This "Israelis are the contemporary Nazis" line is quite simply imbecilic.

If you want to make a factually valid historical analogy, then either the Great Wall in China, or Hadrian's Wall across Britain are far more appropriate. These obstacles are similar to Israel's barrier in that they were intended to keep violent barbarians OUT. Now, unless you want to argue that a suicide bombing of a restaurant isn't an act of barbarism, then the analogy is irrefragible.

The Warsaw Ghetto wall was constructed as a part of the Nazi Final Solution in an effort to kill off as many Jews as possible through starvation and disease in order to obviate the need to ship them to death camps. The Israeli barrier is an inconvenience to Palestinians. In some cases some of their land was condemned through the eminent domain rights used every day by governments throughout the world. But, it's outrageous to assert that this is in any way akin to what the Nazis did during WWII.

You people are absolutely disgusting. I never see posts of outrage when Palestinian suicide bombers slaughter innocent Jewish civilians. And, when the Israelis take measures to occlude the passage of these homicidal terrorists, then the Jews are somehow akin to the SS? In your myopic eyes Israelis are damned if they do, and damned if they don't. If they take active measures to target the terrorist command structure, then you condemn them for "extrajudicial killings." And, when they adopt a quintessentially defensiive measure of building an obstacle to stop suicide bomber infiltration, they are damned as Nazis.

With this pseudo-analogy, Gary, you have stooped to level that is beneath contempt.

I erred in thinking you a decent interlocutor whose views were within the realm of respectable disagreement. But, there is no scope for civilized discussion with someone who evinces such an ugly admixture of bias and woeful historical ignorance that produces this asinine Israel = Nazi Germany comparison.

Not only do you distort what is really happening in the Middle East, but you trivilize what happened to 2/3 of European Jewry.

And, with that, I'll take my leave.

"In the docks"? Like ships?

Surely you mean "dock".

Tim,
nope.

Israel is a ship of state,which is currently steered and captained by the rightwing Likud party.

Israel is the docks because it is need of repair.

Vos,
The key issue is this paragraph:

"Though parts of the fence, both built and unbuilt, run along Israel's pre-1967 border, a large part of the barrier's route is inside the Palestinian West Bank. It was this portion that was the object of the International Court's 64-page decision, and Israel's Supreme Court.

The ICJ acknowledged that Israel had "the right, and indeed the duty, to respond in order to protect the life of its citizens". So do I.

Let me repeat. Sharon's security wall is justified, if it stays within the 1967 boundaries of the Israeli state. Then your argument would hold.

However, the security does more than that. The barrier cuts into West Bank territory to encompass Jewish settlements.

So the Hadrian wall analogy breaks down. There lies the flaw in your argument.

Even the Israeli Supreme Court established the principle that Israeli security needs had to be balanced against the suffering caused to Palestinians. Hence they should be compensated.

My history analogy is with European colonization not with the Nazi's. I do not equate a democratic Israel with the Nazi regime. For all the racism towards Palestinians within the settler movement the Likud Party is not a fascist party.

My concern is what Israel is doing with its settlements:thgese are speaheads of territorial expansion by a powerful state.

Even thoseIsraeli's who are concerned with security question the settlement expanionism.

On Ron's point, consider this description:

"In several places, the wall does not simply wend through Palestinian towns, it actually surrounds them entirely, penning the residents inside - their right to enter or leave left to the whim of young soldiers guarding the gate.

In these localities, civilian populations are now entirely encircled by a 30-foot-high, gray concrete battlement interrupted only by watchtowers from where soldiers train binoculars and automatic rifles on the residents below. Lights mounted on the wall shine down into the streets, making constant surveillance that much easier. As a Jew whose ancestors were confined to ghettoes during anti-Semitic periods of history, I find this horrifying. Will keeping 100,000 Palestinians penned in ghettoes and enclaves serve the security needs of Israel? Did forcing Jews into the ghettoes of Europe serve the security needs of those countries?"

So what will happen to these Palestinians inside the wall? Will they be granted Israeli citizenship? Will they be transferred? Will they be treated as barbarians?

These are legitimate questions.

The sad thing about the conflict between the Israeli's and Palestinians is that there no middle ground left.

VOS: In defence of Gary it must be said that some aspects of the Israels policies towards the Palestinains do resemble various actions that were undertaken by the Germans in the second world war.

As you are very knowledgable about Israel you must be aware that this point is raised in Israel itself. Another subject of discussion in Israel is the developing Racism towards Palestinians and Arab Israelis. as can be seen in these links this one, another one, and one more.

VoS,

I am sorry you are offended by what I said, however, everytime I see that wall, the word ghetto flashes through my mind. The post-war generation has been bombarded (and rightly so) with horrific images of the excesses of the Nazis. It is impossible not to connect the image of the wall with the Warsaw Ghetto.

I am sure this same image is present in the minds of many (most?) people throughout the world when they see the wall.

The wall has to be a public relations exercse of the worst kind, if nothing else.

I have no problem with a wall being erected between Isrealis and Palestinians. I also have no problem with the terrible images that it evokes because lets face it, the whole place is a shithole, and its just reflecting reality. The problem as I see it is that the Isrealis are unilaterally deciding where this wall goes, and Palestinian preferences don't register high on the priority list.

In fact I reckon Isreali churlishness and illwill is playing a big part in where this wall is placed.

Perhaps Rex, if half a milion muslim arab troops massed on the pre 67 border with Israel had got their way with their 'final solution', after Nasser pissed off the UN forces and with it its ICJ, your sensitivity to this monument to UN impotence, would not be aroused today. You and the arabs could sleep well. When they tore up the border with Israel, they were of course tearing up their right to decide where this monument would be placed. I note that Egypt did very well in leaving their Palestinian allies in the lurch, in order to get back the Sinai and the Suez Canal.

Observa,
The argument is not about Israel not having the right to defend their citizens against threats from other nation states in the region.

Israel has that right.

But that right is not absolute. It has to be tempered.The right to security cannot be used to take territory in the West Bank from the Palestinians.

That action is not justified by a right to security. That action is about the expansion of the Israeli nation-state; one that is at the expense of the Palestinian right to their self-determination.

The difference here is between security and expansion is fogged by Israeli.The IJC put its finger on, and highlighted, the difference.

Observa,

This article by Eric Wilson in the Sydney Morning Herald is quite good on Israel's territorial borders. Wilson says:

"There is nothing inherently unlawful about a nationwide fortification system (for example, the Maginot Line used by France in World War I), provided it correlates with accepted demarcations - which Israel cannot successfully make out, as demonstrated by its Supreme Court, which ruled for changes to a 40-kilometre section of the barrier to make it align with the Green Line of June 1967, the outer extent of what Israel has traditionally accepted as unambiguous national territory."

He then goes on to address the issue of border marking Israel's national territory:

'...there are at least three contending territorial formulations of the Israeli state: the original UN-sponsored model of 1947-48, the pre-Six Day War borders and the post-Six Day War borders, the last including at least the greater part of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

As a permanent fixture, the barrier would transform a contested occupied area of "effective control" into annexed territory.'

That is the crux of the issue identified by the IJC. The question asked is: 'Does the wall transform a contested occupied area of "effective control" into annexed territory'?

My argument is simply that when half a million muslim troops wanted to redraw their borders with Israel(the latter to zero) this is what you get if you lose. The Israelis may well say-you got back OUR Golan Heights, the Sinai and Suez Canal, so thank your lucky stars we we were feeling charitable. If you are prepared to talk about the rest of it peacefully, knock on our wall any time. In the meantime if you want to carry on being sore losers forever, go blow yourselves up on your side of the wall.

It would be a bit like the Japanese carrying out Sept11 attacks because they were still pissed off with the Yanks for invading their homeland after Pearl Harbour. Yeah, yeah Glenn, I know they were only responding to previous American imperialism. Pardon some of us for feeling that sooner or later you have to get over it and move on. Modern Japan compared to modern Palestine? Hmmm....

Observa,
Sorry. I do not see the relevance of your argument about states fighting other states back in 1967.

That is not happening at the moment in the Middle East. Israel is not at war with Egypt, Iran, Syria or Lebanon in the way that Iraq was at war with Iran. What we have is the unresolved status of the areas occupied in the 1967 War, which complicates matters.

The flaw in the ICJ judgement is its assumption that conflict is only between nation-states. This overlooks the conflict that exists between a nation state and terrorist groups.

It is a different kind of conflict. It is not equivalent to the Japanese fighting the Americans in 2001 because of their defeat in 1945.

Palestine is not a nation-state. It consists of occupied territory (Gaza and the West Bank). That is what the settlements mean. And the security wall can be seen as setting the future border of Israel while holding on to significant portions of the West Bank.

On the other hand, the Palestinian Authority is unwilling to acknowledge the reason for Israel's security wall--the suicide bombers--- and it makes little attempt to control the terrorist organisations operating under its jurisdiction.

I presume that it does not have the power control these oorganizations.

It was a fairly loose analogy Gary. Generally I agree with your last points and given the history of the conflict, the ICJ ruling appears trite and anachronistic.

Hmm.
what it does show is that there is little willingness to accept a two state solution on both sides.

It is not really accepted by both the Palestinian ruling elite or the Israeli military.

What is happening is that in the occupied territories the Palestinians are being ruled against their will by the Israeli military. They think in terms of military solutions for political problems.