International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

March 1, 2004

March 1, 2004





**  Supporters term Israel's barrier "the first bloodless method" of solving the Mideast conflict.


**  Barrier opponents hope the ICJ judges it a "colonial project" aiming to "steal more land, while Arab dailies assail the U.S. "campaign" to "thwart any authority" the ICJ has.


**  Diplomacy, not a legal ruling, must solve this "basically political issue."




'Homicidal stupidity' makes the fence a 'necessary outrageousness'--  Israeli outlets and conservative global dailies cited the PA's "moral bankruptcy" as the basis for the barrier.  The nationalist Ottawa Citizen called the ICJ hearing "proof" that Israel is "denied equality," as it should have "the same right to self-protection" as other nations.  Israeli critics backed the barrier concept but took issue with its implementation.  Nationalists blasted the barrier as a surrender to terrorist "dictates"; leftists warned Israel would be a "leper on the international scene" unless it builds the fence "behind its recognized international border."  Outlets also criticized the ICJ's "endless compassion for Palestinians and none at all for Jews."


An ICJ ruling will grant 'strong moral power'--  Arab and leftist Euro outlets predicted the hearings on Israel's "preventative wall" will confirm it creates "greater hardship and deprivation" among Palestinians and will cause a "deeper conflict and more bloodletting."  Beirut's moderate An-Nahar labeled the wall an effort to "assassinate a cause, a nation and a land."  Joining other critics in rejecting the Feb. 22 "suicide operation" in Jerusalem, Tunisia's independent Realites argued that such "blind and bloody violence" only "legitimizes" the wall.


'Justice in this case is being politicized' by the U.S.--  Aggressive Arab papers blasted the U.S.' opposition to the hearings as "weird and suspicious."  "International law" is useless because the UNSC "has nearly become irrelevant due to American vetoes" and the UN's "decisions are of no avail," said the West Bank's independent Al-Ayyam.  Egypt's pro-government Al-Akhbar called the hearings a "a fresh test of the will of the international community," which must end "double-standards policies and bring about the rule of law."  If the "world superpower threatens a nation for going to the ICJ...and gives its blessing to the occupier," dailies warned, then the "only solution is...resistance."


The ongoing conflict must be handled 'in the diplomatic arena'--  Writers opposed leaving the conflict "up to judges" at the ICJ, stating that the conflict "can only be solved politically."  Euro dailies opined that letting the ICJ handle such a "highly complicated" and "basically political" issue demonstrates the current "deadlock."  Belgium's left-of-center Le Soir took an activist position, urging the "international community to force both sides to sit at a table and to reach an agreement."  Nigeria's independent New Age rejected "damming the West Bank with high walls," concluding that "violence cannot resolve the crisis.  Only negotiations can."


EDITOR:  Ben Goldberg


EDITOR'S NOTE:  This analysis is based on 59 reports from 23 countries over 22 February - 1 March 2004.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.




BRITAIN:  "Israel's Wall Cuts It Off From The World, Not Just Palestine"


The center-left Independent concluded (2/24):  "The wall creates a boundary between the two peoples, one all too resonant--in Europe at least--of the infamous Berlin Wall.  Its immediate effect is to divide Palestinian communities and encroach upon their territory.  Its longer-term effect would be to create a new border enclosing some 90 percent of Israel’s illegal settlers and make a viable Palestinian states alongside Israel well nigh impossible.  The international community cannot ignore such an attempt to create 'new facts on the ground.'  If Israel really wishes to avoid a World Court condemnation, it should immediately stop construction of this edifice.  The alternative is justified international condemnation, increased isolation for Israel, and the prospects for peace receding even further into the distance."


"Positive Side Of The Fence"


The conservative Daily Telegraph editorialized (2/23):  "Israel is in the dock again.  The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is investigating the legality of the security fence being raised on the West Bank.  Even a number of Israel’s traditional friends are alarmed by the policy....  Faced with a choice between international disapprobation and more Israeli deaths, Mr. Sharon has understandably opted for the former.  He believes that the fence would have prevented yesterday’s atrocity in Jerusalem; and he is almost certainly right....  Even in the relative safety of the United Kingdom, we are seeing to bring our frontiers under control.  Surely Israel, which has been the target of thousands of terrorist attacks during the intifada, has the same right. "


FRANCE:  “Bridges Rather Than Walls”


Dominique Quinio noted in Catholic La Croix (2/25):  “Many believe that the security fence will solve nothing....  Many also believe that the ICJ’s ruling will solve nothing. On the contrary it will freeze the position of both sides. It will comfort the Israelis in their belief that the world is minimizing the problems of insecurity which Israel must deal with. And comfort the Palestinians in their belief that Israel is alone guilty of the violent impasse in which the Middle East finds itself....  What the Middle East needs more than walls and judges are builders of bridges.”




Gerard Dupuy wrote in left-of-center Liberation (2/23):  “On the one hand an international court of justice which is very far removed from the realities of the world, on the other one more suicide attack which will make the construction of the security fence more of a reality....  The perpetrators of the suicide bombing are sending a most disrespectful message to The Hague while the Israelis will use this new attack as an argument to continue building the fence....  In spite of his protesting, Arafat has not managed to set a clear distinction between his clean-cut emissaries sent to The Hague and the bomb-toting individuals who aim to kill....  Sharon, for his part, will listen with one ear to those who criticize his fence--the Americans who do it with timidity and the Europeans who do it a little more firmly. He will continue to build his concrete wall, a symbol of his own mental limitations. Meanwhile The Hague will give its opinion, as everyone waits for the two sides to agree on their disagreements and show signs of accepting their divorce.”


GERMANY:  "Unwieldy"


Martin Klingst opined in center-left weekly Die Zeit of Hamburg (2/26):  "Unfortunately, the good arguments of both sides remain unheard, because Israelis, Americans and Europeans prefer not to appear before the court.  Their argument:  The conflict over the fence is highly complicated and is not only of a legal but also of a political nature.  This is right.  But this is exactly an argument they should have presented in The Hague."


"New Policy For Middle East"


Inge Guenther wrote in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (2/26) and left-of-center Berliner Zeitung (2/26):  "The U.S. does not seem to be willing to award Sharon for the exodus of Gaza settlers giving him a free hand in West Jordan.  It is very unlikely that Americans will give their blessings for annexing settlements.  Although the West thought little of getting the International Court involved, a clearly defined legal position, restricting Israel's requirement to defend itself by barriers, could be useful.  It would not create peace, but could contain the conflict."


"Defending Against Terrorism"


Centrist Stuttgarter Zeitung editorialized (2/26):  "Will it be reprehensible if Israel defends itself against terrorist attacks?  If the people are beginning to take up a position of all-round defense to protect themselves from suicide attacks, set up a wall to protect their own lives?  Certainly not.  But the anger of Palestinians is also understandable.  This monster made of concrete and barbed wire is fragmenting their country, is taking away their land, thus finally destroying expectations for the long hoped for own state."




Centrist Darmstaedter Echo maintained (2/25):  "The Israeli security fence is a necessary outrageousness, necessary to protect Israeli lives, and monstrous for the Palestinian people.  Those who argue against the structure, must also accept the accusation of showing contempt for humanity as those who favor the wall."


"The Wall In Their Minds"


Peter Muench opined in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (2/24):  "The course of the barrier shows that the government of Prime Minister Sharon wants to combine necessary and useful matters, by preparing the annexation of settlements in West Jordan.  On the other side, Palestinian policy lacks any attempt to act against terrorism that originates among their own ranks.  There is no courageous politician or security officer at the Palestinian authority fighting Hamas or Islamic Jihad.  All one can see are Al Aksa Brigades, who belong to President Arafat's Fatah movement, sending a suicide bomber to Jerusalem in time of the opening of the proceedings in The Hague.  Given so much blindness among the conflicting parties, not much can be expected from the court in The Hague, whose hands are tied anyway.  At the most, the International Court of Justice can produce a non-binding report.  Judges cannot pass a judgment on something politicians failed to fix.  The deadlocked peace process was taken to a judicial sidetrack.  But in the United States and Europe, where politicians like to hail their own efforts in the peace process, one is watching inactively how Israelis are building fences and Palestinians are committing attacks."




Jacques Schuster said in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (2/24):  "Those who still cannot understand why Americans are concerned about the International Criminal Court, should closely look at The Hague at the moment.  One can see there how the United Nations' International Court of Justice is misused for political purposes and how its reputation is gambled away....  The Court doesn't really seem to care about legal issues and its standing.  Otherwise, it would have had to exclude the judge who has been publicly condemning Israel already before the start of the proceedings.  He still has not resigned.  The ICJ does not care about the report for the UN either, but wants to play politics.  This attitude is right in so far as the conflict between Israel and Palestinians can only be solved politically. This is not up to judges."


ITALY:  “Israel: Let’s Shorten The Fence”


Roberto Miraglia said in leading business-oriented Il Sole-24 Ore (2/26):  “The hearing on the construction of the fence in Palestine ended in The Hague yesterday, but it will be a few months before the UN Court of Justice gives its verdict....  The principal Western powers did not attend the trial and limited themselves to sending written records. In the meantime, Israeli military sources yesterday announced that the defense barrier would be shortened by 80 alleviate the inconveniences and sufferings of the civilian population. But the Palestinians maintain that the fence is illegal and that the initiative violates a series of international laws....  Yesterday, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell reiterated that the fence does not represent per se an ‘insurmountable’ obstacle in the peace process. The problems stem from its lay out....  In any case, before it can address the issue, the Court will first have to decide on whether or not to issue an opinion. Both Jerusalem and Washington have asked the judges not to give a verdict because it would be an obstacle for the Road Map.”


“The Logic Of The Fence”


An editorial in leading business-oriented Il Sole-24 Ore read (2/24):  “At this point, who can say Israel is wrong before such homicidal stupidity?....  How can anyone who believes in a peaceful solution of the conflict help the Palestinians when they are the ones drowning their cause?....  No government in the world can behave like Ariel Sharon’s without being subjected to international condemnation. But no country in the world undergoes the incessant and inhuman pressure of terrorism like Israel. Which of the two injustices is larger? If there is an answer, which is complex, painful and most of all political, the judges in The Hague who are called to give an opinion, and not a verdict, will not know how to find it. The answers which were yelled out yesterday by the diverse crowd outside the courtroom are only the most simple and the most useless.”


"Terrorism Needs The Fence"


Umberto De Giovannangeli noted in pro-democratic left party L’Unità (2/23):  “In this logic of annihilation, the ‘wall’ is useful to demonstrate that there is no other line to practice besides the one of force. In this logic that makes armed propaganda an absolute, the ‘wall’ serves to demonstrate that on the other side there is a country, a state, a population of enemies to demonize, to strike and to annihilate. To kill hope, to erase any type of comparison, to hush the voices of those on both sides who only long for a normal life and who know that to achieve it they must meet the other side half way amidst respective reasons and aspirations, that it is necessary to fight for a peace that will acknowledge Israel the sacrosanct right to live in security, and an independent state for the Palestinians. The terrorists are constantly on the move to [suffocate] these legitimate aspirations. Their only reason for being is to erect a single, great, insurmountable wall, meaning the wall of hatred.”


BELGIUM:  "Vicious Circle"


Baudouin Loos observed in left-of-center Le Soir (2/23):  "In order to try to protect itself from these terrible attacks, Israel is building a wall that cruelly worsens the Palestinians' already miserable situation. These last months, numerous observers who have traveled to the region have warned that the Palestinians' sufferings would lead to more candidates to become suicide bombers--martyrs, as Palestinians call them.  What could one say about such a mess? That only fair political negotiations could lead both sides to come out of this deadly confrontation? But both sides are saying that there is no valid partner to begin such a negotiation. The best solution - but also the most unlikely - would be for the international community to force both sides to sit at a table and to reach an agreement. But that is an utopia in the current regional political configuration."


CZECH REPUBLIC:  "Is The Israeli Wall Legal? And Is Terror Legal?"


Petr Pravda wrote in leading, centrist MF Dnes (2/25):  "To ask the question, whether the Israeli "security" wall is legal, is essentially useless in the same way as asking whether Palestinian terrorist attacks are legal, or whether Israeli security operations including pulling down Palestinian houses, or whether the entire Israeli-Palestinian conflict is legal.  Of course they are not.  It would make more sense to ask the question whether the building of the wall is acceptable or, perhaps even better, understandable.  But there is no easy answer to this one either....  There is no doubt that the wall will at least in the short term increase Israel's security.  This should also bring about limitation of Israeli military operations in the Palestinian territories, lower Palestinian casualties, and also decrease Israeli interference into Palestinian matters.  It is after a long time the first bloodless method of solving this dispute."


HUNGARY:  "Reflex"


Endre Aczel noted in leading Hungarian-language Nepszabadsag (2/24):  "And [what about] the outside world?  Europe is the main cause of the conflict (let's speak our mind: the original sinner).  The U.S. is lingering around its own several conflicting interests and viewpoints.  The UN Assembly condemns Israel on a regular basis and Israel, on a regular basis, takes no notice of it.  By bringing the wall issue before the international court in the Hague, regardless of what the verdict will be, the Palestinians have already won a battle in a psychological warfare. The hearing at the Court can become embarrassing to the UN and an extra burden in the Court's neck.   The result is nothing more than a tiny pinprick to Israel and a temporary half victory for Palestine. As far as the opinion of the general public in the world is concerned fewer and fewer people support either Israel or Palestine.  After the trial many more will probably hope that the conflict won't ever spread near to their neighborhood.  It appears to be the triumph of common sense, but it is simply a guts reaction, a reflex of self defense."


NORWAY:  "Injustice In Cement"


Newspaper-of-record Aftenposten stated (2/26):  "It is completely out of the question that the Hague court will accept that a country sets up a massive barrier in an area the country, in conflict with a long line of UN resolutions, occupies. Such a result will not affect Israel no matter what. The country has long ago made it a political tradition to refuse to bring itself into line with decision from the UN's different organs, including the Security Council....  The situation is deeply tragic. It is injustice that is being steeped in cement and covered with barbwire that the world community is more or less passive eyewitness to.  For it becomes more and more clear that the divider that is now being constructed has a much longer-reaching goal than to reduce the danger for terror actions... it is tracked also so that it contributes to making it very difficult to see an future viable Palestinian state....  Future generations of Israelis and Palestinians will pay an uncomfortably high price for this policy. For here lies the chord to a yet deeper conflict and more bloodletting."


"Old In The New Middle East"


Roger Hercz commented in social democratic Dagsavisen (2/26):  "While the court in the Hague shall take a position on whether the barrier Israel builds in the West Bank is illegal, the Palestinians and the Israelis themselves are most engaged in something that has little to do with reconciliation: Both sides count their own dead in order to be able to show them to the whole world....  New today is that the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians operate within a changed geopolitical situation, that is the result of the U.S. invasion of Iraq....  The U.S. for example doesn't appear willing to increase pressure on Sharon....  Before the attack against New York the U.S. and Israel were actually on a collision course. Exactly because of America's one-dimensional view, where terror has become the measuring stick for everything, the Palestinian leadership's stock in Washington would have stood much higher if it hadn't been for the suicide attacks....  Even if increasingly more Palestinians and Israelis today are willing to pay the price for peace, the leaders will anyway make sure that we don't get any season for peace. Especially not when the only controversy Bush now wishes to engage himself in is his own re-election."


SWEDEN:  "A Wall On Trial"


Independent, liberal Stockholm-based Dagens Nyheter stated (2/23):  "Sunday’s suicide bombing in Israel is yet another discouraging reminder of how far away a solution of the Mideast situation is. A stalemate is at hand despite the peace plans and the so-called Geneva initiative. Although there is a road forward no one seems to have either the willingness or the courage to take it. The fact that an international court now is to decide on a basically political issue should be seen as another sign of the deadlock. The Mideast conflict can only be resolved by negotiations between the parties....  The hearing in court risks becoming just a sidetrack, and for the ICJ this is an unrewarding task. It will be wrong regardless of what decision it takes.”




ISRAEL:  "Vain Hopes"


Rafi Mann commented in popular, pluralist Maariv (2/26):  "No international body can accept the dream of annexing if only a part of the territories....  Israel would also become a leper on the international scene, as is happening now regarding the fence.  No acrobatics or PR offensives will help: in the very same way significant portions of the fence...are submissively returning to their natural place--along the 'Green Line'--Israel will eventually be forced to return to the only line inside which it can exist as a Jewish democratic state and enjoy recognized borders."


"Half A White Flag"


Settler leader Israel Harel declared in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (2/26):  "Unlike Israel, the U.S. is not fighting for its life, and is still not making do with fencing off its home.  It put on an army uniform and embarked on a vicious war against terror, far from home.  Israel, against whom the terror has become a strategic threat, took off its military attire, abandoning initiative and attacks, and has lately dressed, and mainly behaved, as a policeman.  Policing--searching for the suicide bomber, or his handler, or his engineer--along with the fence will never bring an end to the terror....  The fence and the 'disengagement' prove to [the suicide bombers] that we are accepting their dictates."


"Fence-Dodging Weapons"


Nationalist, Orthodox Hatzofe editorialized (2/26):  "When the IDF leaves the Gaza Strip and abandons the Jewish settlements...all terrorist organizations will be free to develop the Qassam rockets quietly and meticulously, to extend their range and to increase the damage they can cause....  By now, Israel should bear in mind that Bush's future in the White House is not assured at all, and that the new Democratic president will not be as friendly to Israel as the Bush administration.  In plain words, Israel would be restricted in its responses, and Europe would be emboldened by pressure from the Arab states and Islam to limit the IDF's firepower."


"Checkpoints And Charred Buses"


Ari Shavit maintained in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (2/26):  "The [Israeli] film ['Checkpoint'], which won first prize at the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam, provides a chilling depiction of the daily hell and humiliation of the Palestinians.  'Checkpoint' has only one problem: it is a film without a context.  No terror, no incitement, no bigger picture.  This humanistic film is full of endless compassion for Palestinians and none at all for Jews.  It is a film that has no room in it for even one Israeli bus....  Until 2000 it was possible to excuse this anti-Israel bias. After all, Israel is an occupying power denying 3 million Palestinians their own civil rights.  Since 2000, however, it is much harder to accept this obsessive self-criticism by artists, thinkers and Israeli journalists.  It is much harder to accept the partial and twisted presentations of the reality that they broadcast from Tel Aviv to Amsterdam, London and Manhattan.  The reason for this is not only that in 2000 it turned out that the Palestinians bear substantial responsibility for the continuation of the occupation.  The reason is also not that in 2000 it turned out that the Palestinian struggle is not only a legitimate fight for independence but a zealous struggle against the very existence of Israel.  The reason is anti-Semitism. Since 2000 it has become unequivocally clear that anti-Semitism has reared its ugly head once more."


"Missing The Mark"


Liberal Yael Gewirtz observed in mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot Aharonot (2/24):  "The 'goyim' might be cynical and hypocritical, but there has been be no argument about one thing in all the arguments that have been voiced against us in the world--no one has contested Israel's right to defend itself against aggressors and to protect its civilians.  In that sense, the central, single moral argument that this campaign based on the bereaved families of Palestinian terrorism has presented is actually a rebuttal to an argument that was not raised to begin with.  It is preaching to the choir.  On the other hand, it is hard to understand how this campaign might be capable of refuting the only argument that those devious gentiles have presented against us.  It is the argument that Israel needs to take this action not inside the territories that it conquered, but from within its own territory and from behind its recognized international border.  On that matter Israel failed to persuade....  The Israeli government brought The Hague upon itself, and exported to The Hague a campaign that does not address a direct argument. Even though it possessed an argument in principle that it was not within the International Court of Justice's purview to hold a hearing about the wall, in which it could have found itself part of a broad front along with the United States and Europe, it chose not to focus its public relations campaign on that subject."


"Not the Time For A Big Israeli Response"


Aluf Benn wrote in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz (2/23):  "You don't have to be a strategic wizard, or even a 'senior security official,' to grasp that Israel will refrain from responding drastically to yesterday's attack on the No. 14 bus in Jerusalem, which was perpetrated just a day before the start of discussions about the separation fence in The Hague. Israeli spokesmen said Sunday that the attack illustrates the need to complete the fence in Jerusalem quickly, and also justifies Israel's position regarding the legal review of the fence.  Given the sequence of developments, it would not be a propitious moment for scenes of a large-scale IDF operation in the territories to be broadcast around the world.  Even the chorus of right-wing politicians, which routinely calls for Yasser Arafat's expulsion after terror attacks, kept mum this time....  In the current climate, the main subject in consultations between Sharon and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz after Sunday's attack was security policy for the interim period stretching between the announcement of the separation plan and its implementation.  Over the next year, Israel will have to deal with Palestinian opposition to the plan. Sunday's attack exposed Israel's dilemma: how is it to avoid showing weakness and surrender at a time when the public is waiting for withdrawal?"


"Moot Court"


Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post commented (2/23):  "The Palestinians argue that, because the fence is not on the Green Line, it is a land grab.  But what they are essentially arguing is the right to fulfill their total territorial demands without giving up terrorism or making peace with Israel.  The fence is entirely a consequence of the Palestinian resort to terrorism and refusal to negotiate peace.  The international community has lectured Israel for years on the need to trade land for peace.  If the court sides with the Palestinians, it would not only be negating Israel's rights under the charter, but saying that Israel must give up land for terrorism, leaving nothing to negotiate.  Israel's government will do what it must to secure the lives of its citizens.  This is its most basic obligation. If the court now chooses to rule against Israel, it will do nothing to impede the progress of the fence. But it will debase itself as a source of authority, legitimacy, and respect."


"The Barren Arena Of The Hague"


Independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz editorialized (2/22):  "The unnecessary proceeding in The Hague, which begins Monday, should not divert attention from the need to review the fence's route, and to bring to an absolute minimum its encroachment onto West Bank lands....  On the other side, the Palestinians should not view the UN's decision to force Israel into the defendant's role as approval for Palestinian Authority inaction in the war on terror.  As many briefs pointed out, the issue of the fence, like the dispute itself, is a diplomatic matter that ought to be handled in the diplomatic arena.  The best thing would be for leaders from the sides involved in the dispute, along with heads of the international community, to hurry back to that diplomatic setting, instead of wasting their time in barren arenas."


WEST BANK:  "The Court And What's Next"


Talal Okal observed in independent Al-Ayyam (2/26):  "Since Western Europe protested America's occupation of Iraq, which was against the will of the UN, how can it accept Israel's disregard of the ICJ?  Some fear that constant pressure on the ICJ, the judges and other concerned parties may eventually obscure the Court's ruling, which in a few weeks might end up as a kind of compromise lacking a clear accusation against Israel....  Therefore, the Court is neither the end of the story nor its beginning, for Israel will resume its unilateral plan to impose a settlement on Palestinians against their will."


"And That's How Israeli Pretexts Fail"


Independent Al-Quds contended (2/25):  "A first [Israeli] pretext was that the ICJ has no authority to look into the issue [of the security barrier], considering it a political matter that should be negotiated only by the parties.  It is sad, though, that some states including the U.S. and the EU have adopted this Israeli claim, deliberately ignoring the suffering of Palestinians caused by this wall....  Israel also claims that referring the issue to The Hague is a strike against the peace process, especially if the ICJ issues a decision that questions the legality of this wall.  It is especially upsetting to see the U.S. accept this claim, although it is fully aware of the fact that the peace process is almost dead, and that it is Israel that pretends to care about the so-called Roadmap while in reality, aiming constant attacks against this map....  If the Israeli government truly believes that its cause is credible, why does it avoid appearing before the ICJ's hearings?"


"Israel Is In The Cage Of International Justice"


Muhannad Abdul Hamid said in independent Al-Ayyam (2/24):  "It seems that the weak international presence at The Hague was due to American pressure that pushed the EU to refrain from voting at the General Assembly, while encouraging six other small countries to support the American and Israeli positions in return for [U.S.] economic support....  When the Europeans claim that the wall issue is none of the ICJ's business, where else could Palestinians go?  Could they go to the UNSC, which has nearly become irrelevant due to American vetoes, or could they perhaps go to the UN General Assembly, whose decisions are of no avail?"


"The Wall And The International Position"


Independent Al-Quds held (2/24):  "Palestinians and Arabs should be planning for the next step to follow the...Court's ruling, which will have very limited effects.  More importantly, although Arabs should show seriousness in relying on the power of international law, they should look beyond it as a means [to further their cause].  If fighting Israel seems impossible, and resisting occupation is, according to the Americans, unacceptable, then the least that can be done is to make sure that not a single day passes without highlighting that Israel and its practices and occupation are to be blamed and condemned."


"Our Internal Walls"


Hafez Barghouti commented in official Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (2/22):  "The referral of the issue of the wall to the International Court of Justice in The Hague has revealed that there is a hidden wall between us and some Arab and European states....  The issue of the wall and its ramifications require us to remove the walls that we have built among ourselves and that have made us complacent about internal struggles among the militias, factions, and centers of power and influence.  We must work to cement the domestic front in the direction of resisting this big colonial project, namely the wall.  Since U.S. President George Bush, in the presence of Mahmud Abbas, described the wall as a snake, we have said that this American position will change if we fail to put our house in order, rally around one position, and set aside our internal differences.  We have said that we must deal with the world in the language that it understands and stop political intrigues among rival factions for personal gains.  Thus, we are now reaping the outcome of our domestic failure.  The U.S. position against the wall has turned into one that discusses details here and there and has abandoned its opposition.  The U.S. delegation that visited Israel and met with Israeli officials confined itself to a courtesy meeting with a Palestinian delegation. The U.S. administration has turned its back to the Palestinian Authority and is no longer concerned with stopping the wall, only with reducing its negative effects."


EGYPT:  "The Wall Is A Security, Not A Political Or Legal Issue"


Pro-government aggressive Al-Akhbar asserted (2/25):  "The U.S. has requested the ICJ not to make any decision condemning Israel for the construction of the dividing wall on the Palestinian territories, which are under Israeli occupation. The U.S. is the first country to know that the decisions of the ICJ are non-binding. Nonetheless, it requested the court not to make any decision on the dividing wall.  The question, which should be asked in this regard, is the following:   Why has the U.S. made this weird and suspicious demand? Washington knows that the construction of this protective wall inflicts damage on the Israeli people, not only because it is a 'racist' wall, but also because it splits the Palestinian people apart. Nonetheless, the U.S. does not want to encourage 'criticism' of the Israeli policy, although the international community is aware of the actions, which Israel is carrying out against the Palestinian people....  The truth of the matter is that if a decision were issued in favor of the Palestinians, this would give the Palestinians the right to discuss the construction of the wall at the UN....  This would be tantamount to a 'moral' victory for the Palestinian issue on the international level.  But Israel does not want the Palestinians to attain this victory. On the contrary, Israel wants more gains from the U.S. at this season of the Israeli extortion of the United States....  It is strange that Sharon announced yesterday that the referral of the issue of the dividing wall to the International Court of Justice would obstruct the implementation of the roadmap....  Meanwhile, Binyamin Netanyahu, minister at the Sharon government, said that the issue of the dividing wall is a "security' issue, not a legal or a political issue for the ICJ....  He also confirmed the Sharon point of view that any decision taken by this court would only mix the security aspect with the legal and political aspects of the issue."


"ICJ Hearings On The Israeli Separation Barrier"      


Pro-government small-circulation Al-Gomhouriyah remarked (2/24):  "The problem with the wall, which violates international laws in attacking the rights of Palestinians on their land, not only lies in the fact that Sharon's government considers it a preventive wall but also that it is an alternative which Sharon's expansionist and aggressive government has created in Israel, in the place of peace initiatives, which were run over by occupation tanks.  We are waiting for the verdict of the International Court of Justice for the falling of the wall."


"Sharon's Objective Is To Steal More Land"


Pro-government aggressive Al-Akhbar held (2/24):  "If Sharon's intention was good or his claims were true that the objective of the wall is to protect Jews from Palestinian attacks, he would have erected the wall along the green line which acts as the border between the West Bank and Israel. But the objective is clear. It is to steal more land, expand further and increase aggression....  Should the International Court of Justice issue a judgment on the illegality of the wall or its demolition, Israel will still not abide by the judgment, not because it is not bound by the court's ruling but because it does not know nor recognize any law.... What makes the Arabs and Muslims feel more oppressed is that these crimes being committed by Israel are committed under the protection of the West, and the USA in particular.... Therefore, the issue of this wall is a fresh test of the will of the international community, which is urged to stop the hands-off and double-standards policies and bring about the rule of law, even if the accused is Israel."     


SAUDI ARABIA:  "Battle Over The Wall"


Jeddah’s English-language pro-government Arab News noted (3/1):  "With the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague having considered Israel’s wall, the question is what the final decision will be. Who--Palestinians or Israelis--will win the hearts and minds of the international community and, just as importantly, the 15 judges who will make a decision? More than likely, the court will rule the wall a violation of international law. Most observers consider this all but certain. Beyond the fact that the wall contravenes a number of international and humanitarian laws, the basic facts clearly establish that even the location of the wall on occupied Palestinian land is illegal. If completed, the wall would leave Palestinians with only half the West Bank within isolated, non-contiguous walled enclaves, rendering the two-state solution as envisaged in the road map a practical impossibility....  Unfortunately, the court’s decision will be non-binding and Israel has a history of flouting international law. For now, however, the Palestinians have at least won in the court of public opinion."


"The Separating Wall Is A Meaningless Attack On Peace"


Dammam's moderate Al-Yaum held (2/26):  "The separating wall that is eating up much of the Palestinian land is illegal and it violates UN treaties.  Israel lies when it claims that the wall is to guarantee its security.  The wall is for the purpose of provoking the Palestinians, who are seeking peace and justice in a sovereign Palestinian state. The wall also encourages hatred and violence between the Palestinians and Israelis."


"A Model For American Justice"


Abdul Wahab Baderkhan wrote in London-based pan-Arab Al Hayat (2/26):  "Someone must inform the U.S. that the International Court for justice is neither a mafia nor an Al-Qaida organization.  Therefore, there is no reason for U.S. attacks and threats.  It is obvious that Washington does not recognize the International Court and does not respect the UN.  All U.S. vetoes to UN decisions make it difficult, if not impossible, for the world to rely on the UN.  Do they really think the world should only abide by America’s court for justice?  But what should we do when America is busy with its upcoming elections?  Israel is a very important element in the U.S. administration. For hawks in the U.S. administration Israel was the reason behind the U.S. invasion of Iraq....  America calls for reform in the Arab word; America wants a Greater Middle East. The world superpower threatens a nation for going to the International Court for justice, and gives its blessings to the occupier that is killing and destroying lands....  The super power wants Arabs to reform, but it is the politics of America which also need to reform."


"The Wall Of Isolation"


Jeddah’s conservative Al-Madina editorialized (2/25):  "The battle between the Palestinians and Israel is not about borders; it is a battle about existence. The Palestinians have a right to exist on their own land, as well as have an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital. But Israel does not believe in that.  When this is agreed upon talks with Israel about peace can take place.  Only then can we build bridges for future peace, talk about development, and enter into cooperative trade.  No trade or peace can exist in occupied territories."


"The Wall"


Riyadh’s moderate Al-Jazirah held (2/24):  "Even though rulings by the International Court of Justice are not binding, declaring Israel’s wall illegal will provide the its opponents with a strong legal evidence to stand against the wall, and it will enhance the many organizations that support the Arab right to reject the occupation and its practices."


"Selection Of Time"


Riyadh’s moderate Al-Jazirah declared (2/23):  "The Palestinian bombing in Occupied Jerusalem prior to the World Court opening hearings on Israel’s wall in the West Bank has raised concerns and arguments regarding timing of the bombing, and whether it will have an effect. Israel can select the proper time to launch its attacks, while the Palestinian can only retaliate when an opportunity is available, since they are the weakest party militarily and Israel has the capability and power to move its troops against Palestinian cities and towns at any time."


"The Hague Wall"


Jeddah’s conservative Al-Madina argued (2/23):  "The suicide bus bombing in Jerusalem, which took place a day before the first session of International Court of Justice hearings on the wall’s legality, stabbed the deliberations of the Palestinian attorney to approve illegality of the wall.  It seems that the objective behind selecting the time of bombing was to obstruct the Palestinian and Arabic political efforts use the hearings to draw the world’s attention to the Israeli occupation and to convince the world of the vital need end it. Those perpetrators have built another wall between The Hague judges and the illegality of Sharon’s wall. They have given Israel adequate evidences of the walls necessity. This contradiction will continue as long as the Palestinians are tearing themselves down."


ALGERIA:  "Israeli Wall Deepens Conflict"


Government-owned, Arabic-language Echaab editorialized (2/26):  "The Israeli wall constitutes a source of discrimination and anger not only among the Palestinian people who are split from each other but also for the international opinion, peace lovers, and justice.  This wall created an international solidarity to the oppressed people of Palestine, and the call made to the international court proves that Palestinian are determined to put an end to the conflict with the Israelis once for all.”


JORDAN:  "Undeniably Political"


Tahir al-Adwan commented in independent, mass-appeal Arabic-language Al-Arab Al-Yawm (2/26):  "As for the question of whether the issue is political or is undeniably political....  However, the Palestinians have no option but to put forward their case on a legal basis....  Since the first day of the ICJ hearings, the issue of the barrier has captured political, legal and media attention, adding that the UNSC had failed to address the issue in the past due to a likely use of U.S. veto power and European slackening....  Whatever the verdict of the ICJ, it is not going to stop Israel from continuing to build the barrier.  Israel has been emboldened by US support (and) Israel has grown accustomed to challenging UN resolutions over the years....  Whatever actions Israel takes, this does not imply a defeat for the Palestinians and the international community.  On the contrary, it is crucial that the Palestinians make the most of the ICJ meetings, especially on a political and a media level....  Palestinians have to put across the fact that regardless of the issue of the wall being a political or a legal matter, in reality, it is first and foremost a matter of occupation.”


"The Wall Trial And The Bus Bombing:  Who Is Lurking For Whom?"


Semi-official, influential Arabic-language Al-Rai editorialized (2/23):  "It is time to put a stop to these operations that have no political benefit and only contribute to increasing the siege against and the killing of Palestinians, as well as increasing the international silence with regard to Israel's crimes.  Today's hearing on the wall would have been an opportunity to expose Israeli measures, but these operations only waste such opportunities."


LEBANON:  “Politicizing Justice?”


Sahar Baasiri asserted in moderate, anti-Syrian An-Nahar (2/24):  “The question that was posed by the UN General Assembly on the International Court of Justice was the following: What are the legal consequences of the barrier which is being built by Israel, the occupation force inside the occupied Palestinian territories including East Jerusalem?  However, the circumstances surrounding the hearings at the Hague pose another question: To what extent the U.S., Israeli, European Union, and Russia’s positions threaten the credibility of the Court?....  No one tried to wait for the conclusion of the Court hearings...and allow the court to view whether the problem of the barrier is political or legal....  A campaign was launched in advance to thwart any authority the International Court might have....  Some countries insisted that the International Court has no authority to look into this issue...Other countries started cautioning the Court, like Israel’s statement that an opinion by the Court will destroy the roadmap....  There is no doubt that justice in this case is being politicized.”


”The Hague’s Gate And Dead Ends”


Rafiq Khoury observed in centrist Al-Anwar (2/24):  “The scene at the Hague summarizes the crisis in the Middle East....  The Palestinian Authority is armed with the authority of international law...and Israel refused to be present at the Court armed with its military power and with deceitful international positions....  Everything in the International Law, not only Geneva’s Fourth Convention, confirms that the barrier is a crime, a violation of human rights and the rights of Palestinians in their occupied land....  Resistance is forbidden, resorting to international law is not desired, and political negotiations are crippled....  There is no end for paradoxes!....  The only normal solution for this dilemma is resistance, however, resistance needs a strategy, a political program, and Arab depth.”


“The Last Stop”


Sateh Noureddine commented in Arab nationalist As-Safir (2/23):  “The Jerusalem suicide operation yesterday gave a new justification for building the Israeli wall inside the Palestinian areas.  It also proved that the Palestinian intifada has its own agenda that is not subjected to any political considerations....  Israel did not need this additional justification to continue building the wall which is transforming the Palestinian cities and villages in the West Bank into closed cages...and certainly this suicide operation will not impact the proceedings at the Hague...where the judges will not need to exert any extraordinary effort to prove that the wall is a violation of the simplest Palestinian rights.  The implementer of the suicide operations knew well that the opinion of the World Court at the Hague will not change into a verdict, and will never be able to change into an international resolution that would protect Palestinian ownerships and rights....  The Court will be held today in Israel’s absence....  This absence is not only supported by the U.S., but also by Europe and Russia which rejected...the Palestinian decision to resort to the Hague....  The Palestinians will never be able to carry the opinion of the World Court to New York and demand a U.N. resolution to dismantle the wall.”


“Against The Wall”


Sahar Baasiri stated in moderate, anti-Syrian An-Nahar (2/23):  “Is there a weapon to help resist the separation wall which is being built by Israel?....  Is there a way to confront an unequivocal battle where claiming that it is building a wall to combat terrorism while in truth it is implementing a assassinate a cause, a nation, and a land?....  Israel has already succeeded in sabotaging any moral gain that Palestinians might get from the World Court in the Hague....  As for Arab countries, expressions against the wall continue to be low and a time when Arabs should really contribute effectively and forcefully to any campaign against the wall....  The battle is still at its beginning and all Arabs are asked to express creatively their rejection of the wall.”


MOROCCO:  “Hatred Made Of Concrete”


Amina Talhimet stated in Socialist Union of Popular Forces-affiliated pro-government French-language Liberation (2/24):  “When we want peace, we have some dialogues. And when we want to avoid dialogues, we construct a wall, which is a psychological barrier, a symbol to put an end to any hope of exchange or sharing.  Ariel Sharon and his government chose not to make peace with Palestinians and Arab Israelis....  This foul wall is an expression of hate from a big State towards a weak entity, but also a vile exploitation of this conflict by promoters of a war of civilization between the East that is exclusively Muslim and the West which is exclusively Judeo-Christian.” 


SYRIA:  “No Legality For The Fence”


Elias Khouri declared in government-owned Al-Ba’th (2/23):  “Israel’s refusal to attend the sessions of the International Court of Justice proves its realization that its loss is inevitable.  Although the ruling of the court will not be binding and will be ignored by Israel as usual, It will have a strong moral power since it will assert not only anew the illegality of the fence but, in the first place, the illegality and illegitimacy of the Israeli occupation and the measures it is taking in the occupied Arab lands too.”


TUNISIA:  “Violence And Resistance”


Editor-in-chief Zyed Krichene stated in independent bilingual weekly Realites (2/26):  “Does legitimate resistance justify all actions undertaken in its name? Is it true that terrorism is the weapon of the weak? Arabs in general, and Palestinians in particular, cannot avoid this discussion....  It is high time to open up a real debate on this issue: can Palestinian violence succeed in favorably changing Israeli opinion and encouraging the international community take more positive actions towards a peaceful solution of the conflict?  Experience has demonstrated that this violence engenders fear among Israelis and legitimizes the bloodiest of responses.  And then, public international opinion, which is largely in favor of the Palestinian cause, is stifled by this violence that...therefore prevents the transformation of pro-Palestinian sympathy into real pressure to shift the foreign policies of the great powers....  What would be the impact of a Palestinian non-violent resistance on the Palestinian cause? First, Sharon’s government and its successors, would have great difficulty in the eyes of their own public opinion to justify strikes and the incursions....  Second, the Israeli peace camp, dislocated and marginalized, would have the opportunity to emerge with new conditions for the 'peace of the brave.'  Third, Palestinians, Arabs, the majority of the third world and Western public opinion would be able to influence the foreign policy of the great powers. Finally, the Palestinian resistance would make obsolete any amalgam with the nebulous terrorist extremists.  Of course, the reality is much more complicated and the accumulation of hatred won’t be erased in one day. What the Palestinians expect from us goes beyond emotional solidarity, which has nothing to do with reality. They expect from us to help them, at least on the intellectual level, to escape the infernal circle of violence. Hence, the Geneva summit is worth frank support.  Many Arab intellectuals and politicians condemn in their hearts the blind and bloody violence of the suicide attacks, but they find no moral resort or political courage to proclaim it loud and clear.  Arabs have often shown cowardice towards the tragedy of the Palestinian people. Praising the Hamas or Jihad parties and other Kamikaze theoreticians is putting the future of a people into jeopardy....  To denounce our people’s transgressions is also a resistance.”   




Senior editor Abdelmajid Chorfi asserted in independent French-language Le Quotidien (2/27):  “The flat refusal by Israel to answer the UN’s appeal for an ICJ ruling on the construction of the ‘Separation Wall’ is surprising.  This was a resolution voted almost unanimously (sic) by the UN Assembly General, and Israel risks to have the whole world against it. This can do more harm to its already damaged image.  The government in Tel Aviv has led a media diplomatic campaign to frame the UN initiative....  Sharon’s argument is grotesque and funny since it tries to state that  recourse to the ICG represents an obstacle to the implementation of the 'Road Map.'  Who is he fooling?....  What is surprising here is not the Israeli or the U.S. attitude, but the European one, which is taking a dim view of, and is even irritated by, these legal proceedings.”


“Psychological Wall…?”


Senior editor Raouf Khalsi observed in independent French-language Le Temps (2/23):  "Today begins the hearing of the International Court of Justice on the Israeli separation barrier....  In Palestine they celebrate today a National Day against the wall in the midst of a general indifference on the part of Arab nations, paralyzed by silence....  On the other hand, Sharon counterbalanced the calls for peace by Israeli humanists and by the Jewish Diaspora in Europe with an armada of ideologists who adopted Zionism after having become disillusioned with the end of universalism....  It is they who are changing Zionism into a new Judeo-centrism.  It is also them who pour out new arguments on the Arab world and Europe to condemn any tendency in favor of the Palestinians.  Hence, for the past few days, and even before handing down any decision, the ICJ has been painted as anti-Israeli, anti-Semitic and anti-Judaism....  For their part, the Arab intellectuals do not respond.”




INDIA:  "Wailing Wall"


The centrist Times Of India declared (2/25):  "The recent suicide bombing highlights yet again that Israel faces a serious security threat. Even so, no one can argue that in self-defense...the long-term strategy is to so fragment the Palestinian population and cause such economic hardship that they will be willing to accept any condition for peace that Tel Aviv sets out. Only the naive could have believed that lasting peace was the motive behind prime minister Sharon's recent announcement that he would relocate Jewish settlers in the Gaza . The intention clearly was all along to shift them to portions of the West Bank now taken over by Israel.  So brazen has Sharon been in his wall construction efforts that even the British have been constrained to call it unlawful. The tragedy is that the Hague hearings are hardly likely to conclude in a reversal of Israel 's policy on the wall. The best that can be expected of the hearings is a declaration that the building of such a wall is unlawful. But such international condemnation has done little to rein in Tel Aviv in the past. It is only if Washington were to turn the heat on Sharon that there would be a rethink on the wall.  However, with the Bush administration engaged in fund-raising for the elections, it is not likely to antagonize the powerful and wealthy American Jewish lobby by admonishing Israel. Palestinian jehadism will also prove a useful tool for Tel Aviv to justify its harsh and undemocratic policies in the West Bank and Gaza.  Now with the wall creating greater hardship and deprivation, more terror attacks are likely. And so the cycle will continue unless the Americans step in to break it."


BANGLADESH:  “ICJ And Israel’s Apartheid Wall”


The independent English-language New Age asserted (2/25):  "Though the UN General Assembly has only asked the ICJ to give an opinion on the legality of the barrier being erected by Israel--an opinion that will neither be passed immediately after the hearing, nor will it be binding on the Israeli state after it is passed--the hearing has still been able to draw a lot of international attention and flurry of public relations exercises.  However, the Israelis may try to ignore the authority of the ICJ if it rules against the wall. The Israelis activities on the streets of The Hague betray their anxieties about the court proceedings.  In fact, the Sharon government, though it is enjoying military superiority over the Palestinians, is losing the battle on the moral front.  For their part, the Palestinians are not losing any opportunity to make the most of the event.  It is about time the world community awoke to the plight of the Palestinian people.  The wall, however strong and high it may be, will not be able to ensure security for the Israelis, so long as the lives of the Palestinians on the other side of the wall are insecure."




NIGERIA:  "Negotiation Is The Answer"


Lagos-based independent New Age observed (2/27):  "After more than three years of the current intifada, it must be clear to both parties that violence cannot resolve the crisis. Only negotiations can. Israel cannot secure peace by damming the West Bank with high walls any more than Palestinians can blast their way to a state of their own through suicide bombings and other such desperate acts. It is time the two parties, nudged by the international community, returned to the table to negotiate genuine and lasting peace and in good faith. That is the surest path to guaranteeing a future two-state Palestine, where both Israelis and Palestinians live as neighbors in peace."




CANADA:  "Killing With Impunity"


The nationalist Ottawa Citizen opined (2/24):  "Are there really no more pressing human rights issues in the world than Israel's security fence? This week's hearing at The Hague--which Israel, Canada, the U.S. and many other Western countries oppose--is further proof that Israel is denied equality in the international arena. Israel increasingly has no place to go for redress, and that makes all Israelis vulnerable. The Palestinians who send suicide bombers into Israeli pizza parlours or onto crowded buses at the height of rush hour don't have to worry about the political repercussions of such acts because there are none, or so they hope....  The Palestinian cult of death, as some Middle East experts now call it, has grown so irresistible that it requires more than an upcoming court case at the Hague to deter the suicide bomber. All decent people long for a world without fences. But the reality is that Israel is surrounded by hostile neighbours, many of whom learn from birth that the Jew is a devil and 'martyrdom' is good. Israel has the same right to self-protection as any other state."


"The Intifada Is Stupid"


The leading Globe and Mail contended (2/24):  "When a suicide bomber blew himself up on a Jerusalem bus on Sunday, Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia was visibly angry. The bombing came the day before the International Court of Justice in The Hague began hearing arguments about the legality of the security barrier that Israel is building to fence itself off from the West Bank. Israel argues that it needs the barrier to keep terrorists out, and the bombing, which killed eight people, only served to underline its case. 'This is a gift to The Hague,' muttered Mr. Qureia. 'Stupid, stupid.'  The same thing might be said about the whole of the war the Palestinians are waging against Israel. Leaving aside the moral bankruptcy of massacring innocent passengers on a commuter bus to make a political point, the wave of violence known as the intifada that began in September, 2000, has been an unrelieved disaster for the Palestinian cause. Palestinian extremists have succeeded in causing their enemy much misery...the most sustained and ruthless terrorist campaign any nation in history has endured. But, apart from making Israeli mothers weep, the campaign has gained nothing for the Palestinian people except more poverty and misery.  The security barrier that the Palestinians are decrying at The Hague is a direct result of the violence. Israel would not even have contemplated such an extreme measure unless it was under repeated attack....  Whether or not you believe the barrier is the right response to the terrorist onslaught (and there are good reasons to think it is not), it is a response. The barrier did not come out of nowhere. Suicide bombings are not a 'pretext' for building the barrier....  They are the main reason for it.  The fence is just one of many blows that have fallen on the Palestinians as a result of the intifada....  The infrastructure of Palestinian nationhood...has been devastated. Palestinians complain they can achieve nothing as long as they face the hard-line Mr. Sharon. Yet he was elected in 2001 and re-elected in 2003 as a direct result of the violence. Israelis fed up with the bloodshed turned to an arch-hawk to protect them. At the same time, they turned away from...making concessions to Palestinian nationalism, and the dream of an independent Palestinian state receded yet again.  Stupid. Stupid. That sums it up nicely."



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