Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, stated in a report yesterday that Israel is, once again, clearly in direct violation of international law. On 21 October 2003, the UN General Assembly demanded Israel cease construction of its Closure Wall and dismantle what it has built thus far. Although Israel is building this iron giant well within the West Bank alongside its illegal settlements, an Israeli spokesperson claimed in Ha’aretz that the United Nations resolution engages “propaganda.”
Ha’aretz, considered a “liberal” daily by Israeli standards, carries the story under the banner headline, “Israel rejects UN claim of violating resolution on fence.” The text begins more accurately however, indicating not that the Israelis “reject” the fact that they are violating yet another UN resolution, it is simply that they do not care. The text in today’s Ha’aretz in English reads, “Israel responded fiercely Friday to UN chief Kofi Annan’s condemnation of the construction of the West Bank separation fence, saying that work on the barrier would continue.” Israel is a long-time known violator of international law.
An Israeli spokesperson has also just told the Israeli press that the Closure Wall is “non violent.” In building approximately 150 kilometers of this planned 650 kilometer Closure Wall, the Israeli government is rendering thousands of Palestinians homeless, destroying countless dunams of crops and farmland, demolishing thousands of homes, and killing and injuring many Palestinians in the process. Some towns, such as Qalqilya, have literally become prisons. Extensive studies show enormous damage to the Palestinian population already living under military occupation. Even statistics from the Israeli source B’Tselem state that forty-two Palestinian villages will be imprisoned and nearly 70 other communities will be cut-off from their own farmland. The Closure Wall cuts into 17% of the West Bank, affecting 38% of the population.
On Wednesday Sharon said he would speed up construction of the Closure Wall, referred to by many as the Apartheid Wall and by Sharon as a Separation Fence. Inexplicably, Sharon said he would speed up construction in order to aid the stalled peace-process.
These are the sort of acts that Palestinian political parties cite when they say they do not believe that the Israelis are serious about “peace.” The Palestinians are taking this latest case to the International Court of Justice in the Hague. Following precedent, the Israelis express opposition to idea of scrutiny by the International Court.
The Israeli response to the latest condemnation by the United Nations, is to dismiss the UN, Secretary General Kofi Annan, and international law altogether, as if they do not pertain to Israel.
Israel is second only to the United States in violating international law, and according to a recent European opinion poll, the United States is second only to Israel as the world’s largest threat to peace.
As the news is full of talks and meetings, and talk about talks and meetings, the Israelis continue to attack Palestinians on a daily basis without significant mention in the international press. In one 24 hour period alone this week Israeli soldiers killed a nine year old boy, a 15 year old boy, and three Palestinian men. Will this later be described as a ‘quiet’ or ‘reflective’ ‘diplomatic’ period?
Kristen Ess, an independent journalist and activist from New York City, has lived with Palestinian families under seige in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. She reports for Free Speech Radio News, the Pacifica network, and produces a weekly show for CKUT in Montreal. She writes for Left Turn magazine, The Electronic Intifada, and The Palestine Chronicle. Her writing is translated into French, Italian, German and Arabic. She is working on a book about life under occupation in the Gaza StripMore articles by Kristen Ess