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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 July, 2004, 10:30 GMT 11:30 UK
Israel rejects UN vote on barrier
Israeli Ambassador Dan Gillerman at the UN
Israel will be counting on US support amid the pressure
Senior advisers to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon have said work will continue on the West Bank security barrier despite condemnation at the UN.

The General Assembly in New York voted by an overwhelming majority to demand that Israel dismantle the barrier in line with a UN world court ruling.

Palestinians have hailed the vote as a major diplomatic victory.

But the resolution has no legal force and Israel insists the barrier is needed to protect its citizens.

The resolution [offers no] alternative way of protecting ourselves against terrorism
Dore Gold
adviser to Ariel Sharon
The non-binding resolution was passed on Tuesday with 150 in favour, six opposed and 10 abstentions.

It was drafted after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled the barrier illegally cut into Palestinian land.

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

'Inalienable right'

Raanan Gissin, an adviser to Mr Sharon, suggested that the building of the barrier would continue.

Guide to the route and structure of the West Bank barrier

"We have the right... to take necessary defensive measures against this horrendous phenomenon of suicide and homicide killings," he told the BBC's World Update programme.

Dore Gold, another senior adviser to Mr Sharon, told AFP news agency that Israel was being offered no alternative means of guaranteeing its security.

"The resolution adopted by the UN is aimed at depriving us of this security shield without offering us an alternative way of protecting ourselves against terrorism," he said.

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

Held to account

Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian Authority's chief negotiator, said the General Assembly had taken the most important decision affecting his people since 1947, when the UN agreed to the creation of the state of Israel.

"It confirms the illegal nature of the Israeli occupation," he told AFP news agency in Gaza City.

VOTES AGAINST RESOLUTION
Australia
Israel
Marshall Islands
Micronesia
Palau
United States
He called on the international community to "stop dealing with Israel as a state above the law".

Michael Tarazi, a legal advisor to the Palestine Liberation Organisation, told the BBC's World Today programme that the Israelis had a right to "build a wall on their own property but not on territory that does not belong to it".

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

US support

The 191-nation General Assembly has no power to force countries to act on its recommendations.

While the issue could go to the UN Security Council, which has the power to impose economic sanctions, the US would be likely to veto any such action.

US Deputy Ambassador James Cunningham said that the resolution was unbalanced and called for "the focus [to] remain on President Bush's vision of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side".

Israel's Ambassador to the UN, Dan Gillerman, thanked the five states which had joined Israel in rejecting the resolution: the US, Australia, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau.

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said it was "not reasonable to tell the Israelis that they can't erect a security barrier to protect the people of Israel from suicide-homicide bombers".

Mr Downer added that Australia disapproved of the barrier encroaching on occupied Palestinian territory - but it was wrong to politicise the issue in the UN when Israel's High Court had already ordered changes in its path.


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



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