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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 February 2004, 16:05 GMT
Submissions to world court on Israeli barrier
A Palestinian woman walks next to the concrete blocks that divide in two the West Bank town of Abu Dis
Israel is boycotting the oral hearings
The UN General Assembly has asked the International Court of Justice for an advisory opinion on the legal consequences of Israel's construction of a barrier in and around the West Bank.

BBC News Online presents extracts from the arguments submitted by six interested governments and organisations.

Palestine (Observer status at the UN)

This Wall is being constructed almost entirely in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

The route of the Wall... will compound the humanitarian hardships being faced by the Palestinian inhabitants of the city
Palestinian submission
This Wall is not about security: It is about entrenching the occupation and the de facto annexation of large areas of Palestinian land.

This Wall, if completed, will leave the Palestinian people with only half of the West Bank within isolated, non-contiguous, walled enclaves.

It will render the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict practically impossible.

The Wall is not just a physical structure; it is a whole regime.

It encircles entire communities in walled enclaves and, if completed, will wall-in most of the Palestinian population.

It is already causing the displacement of Palestinian civilians and has imprisoned thousands of Palestinians between it and the Armistice Line of 1949, the Green Line.

There is, moreover, without a doubt, a correlation between the route of the Wall and the illegal Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the water resources in the area.

There is also, of course, a correlation between the route of the Wall and Israel's long-standing illegal policies and practices with regard to Jerusalem.

East Jerusalem is occupied territory. The international community has never recognized Israel's illegal annexation of East Jerusalem.

The route of the Wall will clearly entrench this annexation. It will compound the humanitarian hardships being faced by the Palestinian inhabitants of the city.

Moreover, it will isolate the city from the rest of the Palestinian population, obstructing their access to the city and its Holy Places.


Israel

The resolution requesting the advisory opinion is silent on the reasons why such a barrier is necessary.

These acts of terrorism violate all established rules of customary and conventional international law
Israel
Twenty paragraphs of text preceding the request for an opinion say nothing - not a single word - about Palestinian terrorism directed against Israeli civilians and the ongoing reality of such attacks which have left 916 people dead and over 5,000 injured, many critically, in the past 40 months of violence.

Israel is called to the bar of the Court by a resolution which was crafted and nurtured by the Palestinian Liberation Organisation ("PLO").

The PLO, as "Palestine", has been invited to participate in the proceedings of the Court and assail Israel on questions of law which challenge Israel's right to defend its citizens from attack.

Yet it is the PLO, through Fatah, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades and its wider authority in the West Bank and Gaza, that is behind many of the most murderous attacks directed at Israeli civilians.

In the most recent of these, on 14 January 2004, a young woman from Gaza, pleading illness and a prosthetic limb, managed to evade Israeli security to detonate her bomb to cause maximum casualties. Four Israelis were killed in that blast.

The Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, closely associated with Yasser Arafat's Fatah party, was involved in the attack.

These acts of terrorism violate all established rules of customary and conventional international law.

Yet responsibility for and the legal consequences of these attacks are not part of the request for an opinion from the Court.

Those most responsible for the attacks are effectively given free rein in the proceedings.

There is a travesty of imbalance in the exercise in which the Court is now engaged.

The Court has a discretion whether to give the requested opinion.

In the past, it has emphasised that it would refrain from giving an opinion when to do so would be incompatible with its judicial functions. This is just such a case.

"Palestine" does not come to the Court with clean hands. The process is tainted.

It is an abuse of the advisory opinion procedure. The question is unbalanced.


Organisation of the Islamic Conference

To reduce the rights of the Palestinians, as the Israeli Government proposes, to issues of humanitarian law, is to accept a category of sub-humans, excluded from the rest of mankind.

That construction is an act of force carried out in breach of the Geneva Conventions
Organisation of the Islamic Conference
Moreover, in noting that Israel restricts the humanitarian law applicable to the Palestinians to the Hague Regulations of 1907, and immediately renders that law nugatory by arguing that the limited protection accorded by it has to give way to the necessities of war, the Court will have understood that Israel is thereby manifesting its intention to deny the existence of the Palestinian people, condemning them to remain without any prospect of justice or freedom.

The opinion requested of this Court will enable it to provide salutary clarification by strongly reaffirming the inalienable and universal nature of human rights regardless of the circumstances in which a particular group finds itself.

It will result in condemnation of the plan to construct a wall, on grounds of the massive violations that this will cause to the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people.

That construction is an act of force carried out in breach of the Geneva Conventions.

Moreover, it involves flagrant violations of the fundamental human rights of the Palestinian people.

The legal consequences must necessarily be to condemn the State responsible for this action and to recall to it its obligation to destroy what has been built and to make reparation for all of the violations committed by it.


United States

The United States takes seriously its responsibilities as co-sponsor of the Middle East Peace Process launched in Madrid in 1991.

Advisory proceedings are not a means to address disputes of states without their consent
United States
Most recently, together with the other members of the Quartet - the Russian Federation, the EU and the UN Secretary General - the United States has exerted intensive and continuing efforts to bring an end to the conflict that for more than half a century has tragically affected the lives of both Palestinians and Israelis.

A shared vision of two states, at peace with each other and their neighbours, has now been achieved.

As significantly, a mechanism - the roadmap - has been established for realizing that vision.

The United Nations Security Council, the United Nations General Assembly, the Quartet and other members of the international community, and Israelis and Palestinians have agreed on the path ahead.

The United States has therefore submitted this Statement to assist the Court in understanding the complex diplomatic process under way.

This is the context in which the General Assembly has acted and in which this proceeding arises.

The United States would urge the Court to avoid any steps that would interfere with or make this negotiating process more difficult than it already is.

This risk could be avoided altogether if the Court declined to issue an advisory opinion.

If the Court chooses to provide its views, however, then as a matter of judicial propriety the Court should examine any proposed issues to ensure that addressing them will not offend the principle that advisory proceedings are not a means to address disputes of states without their consent.

This would be especially true if it is suggested that the Court should address any of the permanent status issues that the parties have agreed to resolve through negotiations


United Kingdom

The United Kingdom submits that the present case is one in which the Court should exercise its discretion, under Article 65, paragraph 1, of its Statute, to decline to answer the question posed in resolution ES-10/14.

The request for an advisory opinion is one which relates to what is essentially a dispute between two parties, one of which has clearly not consented to the jurisdiction of the Court
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom believes that the most important priority in the Middle East is the achievement of a negotiated settlement based upon the roadmap drawn up by the Quartet of the United Nations, European Union, Russian Federation and United States of America.

The roadmap was endorsed by the Security Council in its resolution 1515 (2003), adopted unanimously on 19 November 2003, as the means of achieving "its vision of a region where two states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side within secure and recognized borders".

The United Kingdom and the other states involved in the Quartet have made it clear that they consider that for the Court to give an opinion on this matter would be likely to hinder, rather than assist, the peace process.

In addition, the request for an advisory opinion is one which relates to what is essentially a dispute between two parties, one of which has clearly not consented to the jurisdiction of the Court.

For the Court properly to discharge its judicial function in giving an opinion would involve the determination of complex issues of fact in respect of which the necessary evidence would not be before the Court.

Moreover, it cannot be said that an opinion is needed to assist the General Assembly in the performance of its functions.


Russia

No one denies the right of Israel to protect its citizens, but this right should not be realized by seizing other people's territories and should not run counter to the norms of international humanitarian law.

At this stage all efforts should be focused on stopping and reversing the construction of the "wall"
Russia
Such actions must not be allowed to put in jeopardy the prospect of creating an integral and viable Palestinian state.

We understand the motives of the sponsors of the draft resolution, aimed at studying the legal consequences of the construction of the "wall".

But that approach on a political plane would mean that the world community has put up with the current situation.

In our conviction, however, at this stage all efforts should be focused on stopping and reversing the construction of the "wall".

This is demanded by Security Council Resolution 1515 and by General Assembly Resolution ES-10/13. All the Quartet members staunchly support this.

There now should be no yielding up to despair, no creating the impression of an inevitability of a negative scenario, but the full arsenal of political means should be used instead, so as to ensure the implementation of the already adopted decisions after all.

We are convinced that the General Assembly and Security Council should continue to monitor closely this process, rendering support to the Quartet's efforts.




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