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UN's GA demands Israel stop work on West Bank wall

UN Assembly demands Israel stop work on West Bank wall, urges sides to honour Road Map

The United Nations General Assembly today overwhelmingly approved a resolution demanding that Israel stop and reverse construction of the wall being built in the West Bank.

Condemning all acts of violence, terrorism and destruction, the Assembly adopted the measure this evening by a vote of 144 in favour, to 4 against (Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, United States), with 12 abstentions. The action came as part of the long-running tenth emergency session on illegal Israeli activities in occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied territories, which began in 1997 to debate Israeli actions in the occupied territories.

The text, which had been introduced by Italy, on behalf of the European Union, expressed the Assembly's particular concern that the route marked out for the wall under construction by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, could prejudice future negotiations and make the two-State solution physically impossible to implement and would cause further humanitarian hardship to the Palestinians.

In particular, the Assembly condemned the recent suicide bombings and intensification of violence with the attack in Haifa and the bomb attack in the Gaza strip, which killed three American security officers. It also called on both parties to fulfill their obligations under the Quartet-backed “Road Map,” urged the Palestinian Authority to undertake visible efforts to restrain individuals and groups conducting and planning violent attacks, and called on the Israeli Government to take no actions undermining trust, including deportations and attacks on civilians and extrajudicial killings.

Further, the Assembly requested Secretary-General Kofi Annan to report periodically on compliance with the resolution, with the first report due within a month.

Introducing the text on behalf of the European Union, the representative of Italy said the compromise reflected the determination to work towards a just and lasting peace in the Middle East, based on the vision of two States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.

Explaining his vote, Israel's representative called the proceedings a “humiliating farce”. A disservice was being done as long as the majority pandered to the resolution. Surrendering to manipulative games and illegal initiatives of the Palestinian Observer made a mockery of the United Nations. He expressed his disappointment in States that sought to promote peace but were unable to remain committed to a moral position. The Secretary-General, he added, should have more to do than compile a report on Israeli compliance, which mentioned nothing about Palestinian actions.

The Observer for Palestine stated that the Israeli representative had engaged in the usual repetition of personal attacks, intimidation and blackmail. He called it the "diplomacy of gangs"; insolence and arrogance by those that were striving for nothing but becoming occupiers. The legal and historical significance of the text could not be overstated. He thanked the co-sponsors of the resolution, particularly the member States of the European Union.

The emergency meeting began yesterday, at the request of the League of Arab States, with a debate in which some 18 speakers expressed their concerns regarding the wall. Most of them condemned the construction of the barrier, and called for an end to what they felt were Israel's expansionist policies. Several wondered why the wall's route deviated from the so-called "green line" established under the 1949 Armistice.

Most maintained that the barrier would create a major obstacle to the implementation of the Quartet-backed Road Map, which calls for a series of parallel and reciprocal steps by both sides, leading to two States living side by side in peace by 2005. The Quartet is comprised of the United Nations, the United States, the Russian Federation and the European Union.


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