March 1, 2004
ISRAEL'S BARRIER: ICJ HEARINGS 'MISUSED FOR POLITICAL PURPOSES'
** 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
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.
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
"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
FRANCE: “Bridges Rather
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.”
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
"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
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
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 kilometers...to 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
"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.”
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
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."
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
NORWAY: "Injustice In
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
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
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
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
"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?"
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
"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
"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
"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
"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."
"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 to...secure 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
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
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
"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."
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
"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
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.”
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 legal...it 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
"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."
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 Israel...is claiming that it is building a wall to combat
terrorism while in truth it is implementing a project...to 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
limited...at 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
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
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
TUNISIA: “Violence And
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.”
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.”
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."
"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."