Sun, Jul 18, 2004 - Page 6 News List

Palestinians want UN sanctions

SECURITY WALL Israel has said it will not comply with a World Court ruling that it must tear down the wall. Palestinians are lobbying to make the ruling stick


Palestinian demonstrators wave toward Israeli activists during a rally against Israel's security wall near the West Bank town of Qalqiliya on Friday.


Palestinians, following up on their World Court victory, called on the UN to impose sanctions against Israel if it refuses to accept the court opinion and tear down its West Bank security barrier.

The Palestinians' UN observer, Nasser Al-Kidwa, on Friday presented the request to the General Assembly to reinforce last week's International Court of Justice advisory opinion that the Israeli fence violates international law.

An assembly vote like the court opinion is not legally binding. Only the Security Council can order the barrier to be torn down or impose sanctions, but the US -- Israel's closest ally -- would almost certainly use its veto power to block any such resolution.

The 191-member UN is considering a draft General Assembly resolution demanding that Israel comply with the court's opinion.

Al-Kidwa said it is not too early to start thinking about sanctions to end Israel's settlement activities because of Israel's "negative response" to last week's court decision. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ordered construction of the barrier to continue despite the ruling.

The court called for the illegal barrier to be dismantled and for reparations to be paid to Palestinians harmed by its construction. Israeli officials have said they would reroute most of a 40km segment of the barrier near Jerusalem because it would cause too much hardship to Palestinians.

But Israel has refused to recognize the world court ruling, saying it has no authority to deal with the issue.

A vote on the Palestinian-backed draft resolution had been expected Friday but negotiations were taking place with the EU on the resolution. Al-Kidwa said the vote would be held tomorrow.

The Palestinian draft says that if Israel does not comply, the General Assembly would reconvene "to consider further actions to bring to an end the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall."

Israel's UN Ambassador, Dan Gillerman, called the court ruling "a dark day for the International Court of Justice and a dark day for the United Nations" because the advisory opinion ignored Palestinian terrorist attacks against innocent Israelis that forced construction of the barrier.

"We are not impressed by lectures from Palestinian representatives about respect for the rule of law" when they support "terrorism which violates every basic legal norm," he said.

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