Arbor Update

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The Continuing Debate on Israel's Wall

9. July 2004 • Ari Paul
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The Economist states: “The International Court of Justice has ruled that the barrier Israel is building in the West Bank is illegal and has demanded reparations for Palestinians affected by it. There will now be pressure for sanctions to make Israel stop building the barrier but its construction is likely to continue.”



  1. teh construction is likely to continue; and there will be no sanctions. We (US) has already said that a) we don’t recognize it and b) that we will veto any sanctions. And the EU’s Solona says that EU wont sanction.

    What is however depresing…is the sheer bad reasoning in the opinion…at least the master one (the one on jurisdiction is okay). But, Ari, and Mr. Hershokowitz please note – paragraphs 56-61 of the opinion clearly state that the occupation is not illegal; and that israels obligation to respect the right of Palestinians for self determination does not encopasss unilateral withdrawl. Still…badly reasoned opinion…
       —David LIvshiz    Jul. 9 '04 - 12:45PM    #
  2. Israel is not going to abide the International Court’s ruling anyway. The government has already said it is going to ignore the ruling simply because it believes the International Court has no jurisdiction. I’m no lawyer (thank G-d) so I’m not going to say if that’s right or wrong.

    Israel did have a point regarding the bias of the court; it refused to hear testimony from terror victims (Israel’s reason for putting up the wall in the first place). I’m against the fence, but if you’re not willing to hear the other side of the argument, how does your ruling have relevance?

    My guess as to why the US and EU won’t sanction: the US has a wall on the border with Mexico in Texas and the EU is currently building one for Spain in Morocco (the name of the Spanish enclave starts with a “C” I think).

    But hey, that’s my opinion and everyone’s free to have theirs.
       —Jared Goldberg    Jul. 9 '04 - 02:47PM    #
  3. for the interest of accuracy. The ICJ did not hear witnesses on the Palestinian side either. In fact, the ICJ does not, in an advisory case, hear witnesses period. What happens is that countries present arguments and Israel opted out.

    As for jurisdiction, i am not a lawyer (yet), but they probably had jurisdiction technically, but pursuent to past ICJ decisions should have stayed otu – but they didn’t. too bad for them – they look silly doing it.
       —David Livshiz    Jul. 9 '04 - 02:54PM    #
  4. i guess my beef is that you were ranting and raving about how no one has refered to the wall as illegal, and the lead story in the economist says just the opposite…i trust the world’s most highly respect english language news weekly…sorry…

    -ari p.
       —Ari P.    Jul. 9 '04 - 02:58PM    #
  5. If this is about security, why did Israel build (parts of) the wall on Palestinian land?

    Chomsky in his blog post on the topic says:

    “If the goal were security, Israel would have built the fence a few km inside its borders. It could then be a mile high, patrolled on both sides by the IDF, mined with nuclear weapons, utterly impenetrable. Perfect security.

    “The problem would be that it would not take valuable Palestinian land and resources (including control of water), drive out the population, and lay the basis for still further expansion as Palestinians flee from the dungeons that are left, like the town of Qalqilya. So to interpret as a land grab seems appropriate.”
       —Scott T.    Jul. 9 '04 - 03:42PM    #
  6. Chomsky’s comment shows a lack of understanding of the wall and how it came about. It was originally an idea from the left, a way to stop the occupation (wall separates Israeli soldiers from Palestinian civilians). It was a good idea, became popular, and was implemented by the current ruling party, the right wing Sharon government. While the wall may do other things, like grab some land, it will serve the purpose of functional security no matter where it gets built. It’s going up, fact.

    Yes the implementation of the wall hasn’t been great, but even the Israeli high courts are making ruling to make is less of a problem for some Palestinians.

    No matter how you look at it, this is a dead lock, and the wall is the best solution. Israel cannot make peace till it has security, something they have never had since the day they were formed. It will also allow the Palestinians to have territory (even if they don’t like the borders) that isn’t occupied by troops.

    Oh yah, don’t forget my prediction, both sides will go to civil war when they are forced to stop fighting each other. Israel’s war may just be political, but I don’t think the Palestinians will be as lucky.
       —Just a Voice    Jul. 9 '04 - 07:51PM    #
  7. david, can you elaborate on “but pursuent to past ICJ decisions should have stayed out”.

    thanks if you can.
       —Just a Voice    Jul. 9 '04 - 07:53PM    #
  8. Just a Voice –

    The ICJ is a very peculiar court; at least in the way that we americans think about courts. In the US, once a complaint is brought a court must render a decision unless there are very particular circumstnaces involved. True, sometimes US courts dodge political hot-potatoe issues (see the pledge case) but generally once they are brought into the picture they must give a decision.

    The ICJ, being a tribunal of international law, is not bound by the same constriants. And is a much more politically astute court. Traditionally, the ICJ has crafted its rullings to promote negotiations between countreis (particularly when either country objected to jurisdiction). The tragedy in this case is that the decision really makes peace less likely. Comming down the way they did they have simply drawn a line in the sand and have casued extremists on both sides to dig in, making compromise unlikely, if not impossible.

    Traiditionally, when the ICJ is faced with such decisiosn it acts to encourage dialogue – not in an ideological way (you better talk or else) but in a practical way. In one of the most recent cases between Slovakia and Rumania (i think, i don’t recall the second party) the court was faced with a dispute where both countires wanted out of a treaty. If eitehr was allowed to opt out there was likely to be substanital ammounts of damage done to European environment. Legally, one country absolutely had a right out because the other one had engaged in something called a “termination event.” But rather then do this, the ICJ in effect punted – and forced both sides to negotiate (using the EU as a broker) to a sollution that wored for the betterment of all. This is just one exmaple but throughout the past 25+ years the court when addressing issues where a decision makes compromise unlikley – has traditioanlly ruled in favor of promoting negotiations – and in this case it failed to do that. and for me thats sort of sad.

    Dave
       —David Livshiz    Jul. 10 '04 - 07:30AM    #