Wed, Jul 28, 2004 - Page 9 News List

A US veto on the wall is, sadly, a done deal

The Bush administration will not be deterred in its support for Israel, even if it means disregarding the World Court's judgment on the security wall

By Liaquat Ali Khan

Should the US refrain from using its veto, a unanimous Security Council would be available to pass a resolution giving effect to the court's judgment.

But surely, the US would be unlikely to favor a resolution that compels Israel to comply with the court's judgment -- not in an election year when both presidential candidates are dancing to the tune of millions of pro-Israel voters.

Campaigning on the same side of the wall, both candidates would argue that the court has decided a "political case" and not a legal case, and that the court's decision, if implemented, would interfere with the peace process that the Security Council had previously endorsed.

rejected arguments

Few voters would know that the World Court has specifically addressed these arguments and rejected them all. To win pro-Israel voters, the Bush administration would veto the resolution, and Senator John Kerry would seal his lips to save any unintended slips of the tongue.

Come what may, international effects of the US veto would be grave. When the wall is completed, Israel will have grabbed more than 16 percent of the West Bank; around 500,000 Palestinians will have lost their homes, businesses and agricultural holdings; and more than 300,000 Israeli settlers will have dug deeper into Palestinian territory.

With all this, the Muslim world will find more reasons to hate the US, and terrorists more reasons to kill. Even many Israelis would detest the perpetuation of injustice, as would the 14 judges of the World Court.

And the peoples of the world would say that the US' commitment to international law and human rights is empty.

Liaquat Ali Khan is a professor at Washburn University's School of Law in Kansas.

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