The Jordan Times (Editorial)
July 9, 2009 - 12:00am

Today marks five years since the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued its advisory ruling on the legality of Israel’s separation barrier. While only an advisory ruling, the opinion of the court was clear and straightforward: in all places (a majority of its route), the wall dips into occupied territory and is in clear violation of both international law and international humanitarian law.

The ICJ said that construction of the barrier should end right then and that Israel’s security argument did not justify the inclusion of settlements on the ”Israeli” side of the wall, nor did it justify routing the barrier through occupied territory.

Five years later, however, the construction of this illegal barrier continues apace. More and more occupied land has been swallowed, more and more Palestinian livelihoods have been devastated and more and more illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied territories have been included.

Israel, which never recognised the ICJ ruling, has once again ignored international law, international justice and international standards for human rights.

No surprise there. Since 1948, Israel has been in violation of many international resolutions, United Nations’ or otherwise.

Except, it is a surprise in some quarters. Thus, according to reports in Israel, the Israeli government has garnered US support to complete 2,500 housing units in the occupied territories. This, in spite of US President Barack Obama’s clear opposition to continued settlement construction. Apparently, Israeli officials have successfully argued that these units are so far advanced that it would be “impossible” to stop them. How advanced is that?

Even if only the front door is still missing, surely that does not make it impossible for these units not to be completed! What kind of wool is it that Israel is trying to pull over the eyes of what appears to be a well-meaning US administration?

Surely anyone can see, as the example of the wall shows, that once Israel is given an inch, before anyone will know it, there will be a settlement on a hilltop, complete with “security” walls and fences.

If Israel is allowed to continue building these housing units, how many more will suddenly be so far advanced that they simply cannot be stopped? How much more land is needed for all this?

The settlements, civilian housing in occupied territory, are illegal. There must be no exception or shrugging of the shoulders on this issue. It doesn’t matter if the house only needs painting, it should not be there and it should certainly not be lived in.

Yes, settlements are not going to disappear tomorrow. They may disappear in five years if building there stops now and the settlement project begins to be rolled back. But if Israel senses any kind of ambiguity now, the promise of the Obama administration on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict will remain just that.


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