Imagine that you live in the North End, but your grandparents live in the West End of Boise. Imagine that in order to visit them you must confront a 26-foot concrete wall that surrounds each neighborhood and separates you. Imagine that to cross a small break in this wall along Broadway you will be met by soldiers, who will ask to see your passport and who will interrogate you about why you want to visit your family while pointing guns in your face. Imagine that to go to work every day you must pass similar checkpoints, all of which are a cross between airport security and a military zone. This is what life is like for me right now living in the Palestinian Occupied Territories. This is what life is like every day for Palestinians who want to go to work, feed their families, live their lives in peace.
Today is the first anniversary of the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) ruling rendering Israel’s Annexation Wall illegal. This Annexation Wall has been used to confiscate Palestinian-owned land, water wells and separate Palestinian families from each other. It allows the Israeli military to control Palestinian movement through illegal checkpoints and gates in the wall, which is a violation of Palestinian human rights, according to the Fourth Geneva Convention to which Israel is a signatory.
The ICJ ruling states in paragraph 163(D) that all states are under an obligation to not recognize the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the Annexation Wall, to not render aid or assistance in maintaining the situation created by such construction, and to ensure compliance by Israel with international humanitarian law as embodied in the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.
Yet the U.S. has not adhered to international law by: voting no on UN General Assembly Resolution ES-10/13 on Oct. 21, 2003, which declared the wall to be in “contradiction” to international law and again on Resolution ES-10/14 on Dec. 8, 2003, which sent the matter to the ICJ; submitting a written statement to the ICJ on Jan. 30, in which it argued that an advisory opinion “risks undermining the peace process and politicizing the Court;” taking no action when U.S. corporations such as Caterpillar violate international law and U.S. law by continuing to sell bulldozers to Israel even though it uses them to build the Apartheid Wall, raze Palestinian lands, and demolish Palestinian homes.
The U.S. Congress has not adhered to international law. The U.S. House of Representatives has acted to undermine the ICJ decision by passing House Resolution 713 deploring the Court’s decision. In the Senate, 46 senators co-sponsored a similar bill that has not yet come to a vote. Legislation is already in place that would bring the U.S. into compliance with the ruling: loan guarantees can be used “only to support activities in the geographic areas which were subject to the administration of the Government of Israel before June 5, 1967.” President Bush deducted only $289.5 million from available loans in November 2003. Human Rights Watch estimates $1.3 billion for total construction of Annexation Wall.
Moreover, the Arms Export Control Act (Public Law 90-829) limits the use of U.S. military aid to “internal security” and “legitimate self-defense” and prohibits its use against civilians. As Caterpillar sells bulldozers to Israel through the U.S. Foreign Military Sales Program, they are subject to this law. Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (PL 87-195), Section 116, states that, “No assistance may be provided under this part to the government of any country which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights.”
Disregarding international law and human rights abuses will only hurt American citizens in the long run. The dehumanizing life that Palestinians are subjected to will only lead to frustration that could lead to the loss of Israeli or American lives. I encourage you to contact your representatives and let them know that you support the ICJ ruling and that you want the Annexation Wall demolished. This is the only way to achieve a real and lasting peace in the region.
Dr. Marcy Newman is an assistant professor of English at Boise State University. She is the legislative coordinator for Idaho District 2 U.S. Campaign to End the Occupation. This article was first published in Idaho Statesman on July 9, 2005 and reprinted on EI with permission.