Thursday, October 16, 2003

Daylong Security Council debate slams Israel's Apartheid Wall: 40 speakers in the debate, even New Zealand speaking against the Wall. Australia, to its shame, absented itself from the debate. But that is probably better than speaking in favour of the Wall and aligning itself against virtually the whole world. Speaker after speaker denounced the Wall. Naturally the resolution in the end had a single vote against, the US of course, which vetoed it, John Negroponte doing the honours again and looking increasingly isolated and uncomfortable. A sampling of the debate:

"Almost all speakers at the meeting expressed strong opposition to the construction of the barrier, particularly regarding the fact that its route incorporated territory east of the Green Line."

Palestine: "Along with settlement activities, the construction of the wall involved the illegal, de facto annexation of expansive areas of occupied land that would effectively transfer large number of Palestinian civilians and would constrict the rest of them in several walled Bantustans. He said Israel’s claim that the wall was a security measure to prevent suicide bombings was incredulous -- Israel could build protective walls along the armistice line if that were the case... He said Israel’s claim that the wall was a security measure to prevent suicide bombings was incredulous and illogical, as Israel could build walls along the armistice line. In reality, the whole issue had revolved around one thing -- land and the designs to illegally conquer more land at the expense of the Palestinian people. After the onset of the Oslo peace process, the occupying Power had doubled the number of settlers. Israel was doing all of that while it had not solved the issue of ownership of land in Israel itself. “Absolute madness and compound crimes”, he said. All had been sustained by the illegitimate protection, funding and unlimited armaments provided by basically one source."

"Syria’s representative, introducing a draft resolution it co-sponsored along with Guinea, Malaysia and Pakistan, said the Security Council must make clear to Israel that the wall, along with settler colonialism and the aggression against Syria and Lebanon, were illegal actions. He called for the resolution to be submitted for a vote at the end of the debate... Israel’s objective in building the wall was not to protect security; the track of the wall was far removed from the 1967 borders and was a way to create a de facto border. Israel was, in fact, annexing vast expanses of West Bank territories, he went on, and was violating the most famous of international laws, namely, the inadmissibility of annexing territory by force, and also violating Security Council resolution 242. He said the present Israeli Government was a war government aiming at ending the peace process."

Bulgaria: "appealed to Israel to stop using punitive steps, including extrajudicial killings, and act in accordance with international law. He strongly opposed construction of a security wall that did not follow the Green Line, involved confiscating land, blocked free movement of people and goats, and undermined the Palestinians’ hope for the Road Map. That wall was unacceptable, he said."

Russia: "An important component for Israel’s exit strategy was cessation of illegal acts, such as the construction of the wall and illegal settlements, which must be immediately halted."

Chile: "condemned the wall as it was counter-productive to a negotiated settlement and flouted international law."

Guinea: "That illegal practice [the Wall] was likely to increase feelings of frustration and hate and was the expression of a policy of “Bantustanization”, as well."

France: "said that the question of the separation wall concerned the very possibility of a negotiated settlement in the Middle East. France had publicly noted its opposition to the construction of a wall that deviated from the Green Line, as well as its opposition to the settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories."

China: "strongly deplored the continued construction of the separation wall and expansion of settlements, actions which were not acceptable."

Pakistan: "All Council resolutions, as well as the Road Map, agreed on the need for Israel’s withdrawal from all of the West Bank. The intention [of the Wall] was not to prevent terrorism but to prevent a settlement in the Middle East based on land for peace. It was designed to further entrench the settlers and lead to annexation of land, something that was prohibited by international law."

Arab league: "the construction of the wall was just the beginning of the annexation of areas of the West Bank by Israel, since it cut deeply into Palestinian territory. The wall would result in the total destruction of the Palestinian economy and create a new generation of refugees -- its real objective was expansion. It was a direct threat to the two-State solution, as well as any hope of a just and lasting peace."

Malaysia: "The wall was more than a “security wall”, it was a devious way to create facts on the ground and impose a unilateral solution."

Iran: "what the world was witnessing in the West Bank was “a visible and clear act of territorial annexation under the guise of security”. The wall, once completed, would stretch for hundreds of kilometres, with wide buffer zones, trenches, barbed wires, electric fence, a two-lane patrol road, and “no-go” areas of 70 to 100 metres wide. That was what the Israelis deceitfully called “simply a fence”. In addition to the effects on the lives of the Palestinians, the decision on the wall and new settlement was further proof that the Israeli regime had never been serious about peace; its goal was to draw the border arbitrarily and to sabotage the possibility of establishing a viable Palestinian State."

Egypt: "it would be very dangerous for the international community not to address the recent Israeli acts. That could lead to greater confrontation than had recently been seen in the Israeli air attack on Syria. Recent events had prompted greater distrust of Israel’s intentions and led everyone to believe that Israel would not abide by the two-State solution. Instead, it was opting for a course that ran counter to the search for a just and lasting solution."

Saudi Arabia: "recent events confirmed the aggressive nature of Israel, which had shown that it meant to annex or Judaize more Palestinian territory. The racist wall of separation was started under the pretext of security, but it was part of Sharon’s plan to erase the Green Line, to annex the settlements and divide remaining Palestinian territory. Israel would not have continued such activity except for the silence of the Council and the acceptance of double standards. He called on the Council to fully assume its responsibilities by deciding on the illegitimacy of the construction, calling for its immediate end, and the calling on Quartet to fully assume its responsibilities concerning the Road Map, including the use of forces to intervene between the two parties and ensure their compliance with that peace plan."

Norway: "said his Government would have preferred to see no wall erected between Israelis and Palestinians, as it was hard to see the fence as a means to sustainably address security problems. That could only be done by ending the occupation and establishing a Palestinian State living side by side in peace and security with Israel. However, if the Government of Israel chose to continue construction of the wall, it must be built on the Green Line, and not on the West Bank."

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