UN meeting criticizes impact of Israel’s construction of wall in the West Bank

Israeli construction of the wall near Abu Dis (Photo: Melanie Bartels)


GENEVA (UN Information Service) –- The United Nations International Meeting on the Impact of the Construction of the Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Including In and Around East Jerusalem, concluded its two-day session this afternoon with participants expressing deep concern about the dangerous current and potential humanitarian consequences of the construction of the wall and urging active involvement of the international community to resolve this crisis.

A final document issued by the meeting said participants expressed deep concern over the dangerous current and potential humanitarian consequences of the construction of the wall, noting that it would bring further dispossession for a significant number of Palestinians.  They also noted that by destroying, confiscating and putting off-limits Palestinian agricultural lands and water sources in the process of the wall construction, Israel dealt another devastating blow to the Palestinian economy, which was on the verge of collapse after three years of destruction and restrictions imposed by the occupying Power.

The final document said participants further noted that the protracted and complete lack of dialogue between the parties necessitated an active involvement of the international community.  They reaffirmed the permanent responsibility of the United Nations with respect to all the aspects of the question of Palestine, until it was resolved in conformity with relevant United Nations resolutions and norms of international law, and until the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people were fully realized.

In remarks after the final document was adopted, the Permanent Observer for Palestine to United Nations Headquarters in New York, Nasser Al-Kidwa, said that the wall presented the biggest threat to establish peace in the region and made the two-State solution practically impossible; it constituted a war crime and, thus, should be stopped and removed.

Paul Bidja, Chairperson of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People which decided to hold the meeting, said the international community should take prompt action to terminate the building of the wall and to resume negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.  The search for peace and security must continue.

During the fourth and final plenary entitled “The Construction of the Wall – Rendering the Two-State Solution Physically Impossible”, speakers included Bahia Amra, a representative of the Palestinian Health, Development, Information and Policy Institute in Ramallah; Hussein H. Hassouna, the Ambassador of the League of Arab States to the United States; Mozi Raz of the Palestinian-Israeli Peace Coalition; and Victor de Currea-Lugo, a legal analyst at the Palestinian Environmental NGO Network.

Final Document

The final document said the meeting was held at a time, when, despite a broad opposition by the world community, the Government of Israel continued to build the wall in the occupied Palestinian territory.  In light of this situation, the Committee was of the view that the far-reaching humanitarian, economic and political implications of the construction of the wall warranted further attention of all actors of the international community.

In the course of the meeting, speakers expressed their dismay at the scope of the project, its devastating immediate and longer-term effects on the Palestinian population and the destructive consequences for the political process.  They also discussed the Palestinian and Israeli reactions, as well as the response of the international community.  Many speaker expressed their appreciation of the important report of the Secretary-General submitted in November 2003 and stressed further importance of the General Assembly resolution ES-10/14 requesting an advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice on the legal consequences arising from the construction of the wall.  They called upon the international community, but in particular the occupying Power, to adhere to the upcoming advisory opinion of the Court and to take all the necessary steps to restore international legitimacy.

The political consequences of the construction of the wall were at the centre of the discussion.  The participants were of the opinion that the construction had multiple negative effects on the political situation.  Among other things, it violated the letter and the spirit of the Road Map.  Many speakers saw the wall as a de facto annexation of Palestinian land.

Participants expressed deep concern over the dangerous current and potential humanitarian consequences of the construction of the wall, noting that it would bring further dispossession for a significant number of Palestinians.  They also noted that by destroying, confiscating and putting off-limits Palestinian agricultural lands and water sources in the process of the wall construction, Israel dealt another devastating blow to the Palestinian economy, which was on the verge of collapse after three years of destruction and restrictions imposed by the occupying Power.

The participants further noted that the protracted and complete lack of dialogue between the parties necessitated an active involvement of the international community.  They reaffirmed the permanent responsibility of the United Nations with respect to all the aspects of the question of Palestine, until it was resolved in conformity with relevant United Nations resolutions and norms of international law, and until the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people were fully realized.

Closing Remarks

NASSER AL-KIDWA, Permanent Observer for Palestine to United Nations Headquarters in New York, expressed his delegation’s appreciation to the panellists and participants for their exchange of views and said he felt all the main points had been covered.  The wall presented the biggest threat to establish peace in the region and made the two-State solution practically impossible; it constituted a war crime and, thus, should be stopped and removed.  On the issue of the root of the wall, Palestine had indicated that Israel could have built a wall on its own territory and it would not have challenged the legality of that move, although it still would not have agreed to it as a good idea for a peaceful solution.

On the issue of violence, Mr. Al-Kidwa said the whole conflict was essentially one of foreign belligerent occupation that was transformed into colonialism aimed at negating the existence and national rights of the Palestinian people.  Palestine had a clear policy against targeting civilians in Israel, which should be distinguished from the right of the Palestinians to defend themselves against attacks by the occupying army.  On the issue of enforcement, the emergency special session of the General Assembly, as well as the work of the International Committee of the Red Cross, were good examples of concerted action to resolve the problem being addressed.  All of the above depended on the determination of States, which would lead to the respect for international law, he added.

The recent declarations by the United States and Israel had violated the Middle East peace process and brought an end to the Road Map, among other things.  The Palestinian position was that these declarations were not acceptable.  Moreover, that position would not have any impact on international law or on the rights of the Palestinian people as recognized by the international community.

PAUL BIDJA, Chairperson of the Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, said the findings of the meeting should be analysed and used to attract attention and remind others of the grave consequences of the actions taken by Israel.  The Security Council and the United Nations, as well as the International Court of Justice, had been seized with the issue of the wall and he said he felt the meeting came at an appropriate time, during the sixtieth session of the Commission on Human Rights, since the situation in the occupied territories was largely of a human rights nature.  The meetings had exposed the dangers posed to Palestinian people and obstacles they faced in trying to improve their livelihood.

The Chairman said particular attention had been paid to the humanitarian consequences of building the wall, international law and the annexation of Palestinian land.  At the political level, all statements had underlined that the wall had harmful effects and was a violation of the Road Map.  The continuation of building the wall would make it impossible for a two-State solution to be implemented and, therefore, impossible for peace.  On the humanitarian level, suffering had resulted due to the wall and freedom of movement and other rights had been deprived.  At the economic level the construction of the wall had ruptured economic links and had weakened an already weak Palestinian economy.

In conclusion, Mr. Bidja said the international community should take prompt action to terminate the building of the wall and to resume negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.  The search for peace and security must remain.

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