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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 July, 2004, 03:35 GMT 04:35 UK
UN demands Israel scrap barrier
Barrier at Abu Dis
Israel insists work on the barrier will continue
The UN General Assembly has adopted a resolution demanding that Israel comply with a world court ruling to dismantle its West Bank barrier.

The vote was passed with 150 in favour, 6 opposed and 10 abstentions.

The resolution, which is non-binding, was drafted after the International Court of Justice ruled the barrier illegally cut into Palestinian land.

Israel has already said it will ignore the court's ruling and condemned the resolution as "outrageous".

All 25 members of the European Union voted in favour of the resolution after it was amended to include calls for Israelis and Palestinians to meet their obligations under the "roadmap" peace plan.

But the 191-nation General Assembly has no power to force countries to act on its recommendations, though the issue could then go to the Security Council which theoretically has the power to impose economic sanctions.

Guide to the route and structure of the West Bank barrier

However, the US has spoken out against the ICJ's advisory ruling and the new resolution, and wields a veto in the Security Council.

BBC UN correspondent Susannah Price says the resolution is an attempt to put moral pressure on Israel.

Israeli Ambassador Dan Gillerman described it as a "perversion of justice".

"It is simply outrageous to respond with such vigour to a measure that saves lives and responds with such casual indifference and apathy to the ongoing campaign of Palestinian terrorism that takes lives," he said.

But Palestinian representative Nasser al-Kidwa said it was time for Israel to comply - and for "additional measures" at a later stage, if it does not.

The Palestinian Authority has said it will delay pushing for a Security Council resolution until after the US presidential elections in November.

Barrier

Israel has insisted it needs the barrier to stop Palestinian suicide bombers.

Opponents say the barrier, which juts into the West Bank, is a ploy to seize land and complicates moves to create a Palestinian state.

Israel says it will comply with an Israeli Supreme Court ruling ordering the 640 km (400 mile) barrier to be re-routed around Jerusalem, but has vowed to continue to press on with construction.

US Deputy Ambassador James Cunningham said that the resolution was unbalanced.

"The United States remains convinced that the focus must remain on President Bush's vision of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side," he said.

Israel, Australia, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau also opposed the resolution.

In a statement, the European Union underlined that Israel had the right to self-defence and that it was troubled by some sections of the world court ruling, which is also non-binding.




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The BBC's Susannah Price
"Israel intends to ignore the court and continue building"



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