World must persuade Israel to tear down barrier on Palestinian land – UN meeting

Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Paul Badji, Chairman of the Committee and Permanent Representative of the Republic of Senegal to the United Nations, and Wolfgang Grieger, Secretary of the Committee. (UN/Eskinder Debebe)

A United Nations International Meeting on the Question of Palestine has called on the international community to adopt measures to persuade Israel to dismantle a separation barrier it is building on occupied Palestinian territory and to make reparations for all damages caused by its construction.

The two-day meeting, which ended yesterday in Geneva, called for Israeli compliance with international law and last year’s advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that the construction of a wall, which Israel says it is building for security reasons, is illegal where it runs on occupied territory and should be torn down.

The final document, read out at the closing session by Victor Camilleri, Rapporteur of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People which convened the Meeting, expressed serious concern at the continued settlement activities in the West Bank including in and around East Jerusalem, and cautioned against any transfer of Israeli settlers from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank.

The participants voiced great dismay that continued construction of the barrier further exacerbated the already deteriorating socio-economic situation of the Palestinians and stressed that urgent attention by donor countries and the international community was needed to redress this dismal and unacceptable situation.

They supported the continued engagement of the so-called Middle East diplomatic Quartet – UN, European Union, Russia and United States – in efforts to resolve the conflict and stressed that a Palestinian State should be territorially contiguous along the 1967 borders, which included the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

The Quartet has produced a Road Map plan calling on both Israel and the Palestinians to take parallel and reciprocal steps leading to two states living side by side in peace, originally by the end of 2005.

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