July 22, 2004

ICJ Makes Partial Ruling Againast Israeli Fence

The International Court of Justice ruled that the portion of the Israeli security fence that falls in the West Bank is in violation of international law. The border is the 1967 Green Line, the former border that marked Israel and Jordan (when Jordan occupied the West bank) until the stunning military successes of Israel in the Six-Day War that year. The Israelis are building a security fence along a good portion of the border between Israel and the Israeli-occupied West Bank. A huge number of terrorist activities stem from the West Bank.

Since the construction of the fence has progressed, suicide attacks have fallen dramatically - proving its effectiveness. Unfortunately, the wall also disrupts the lives of many locals, often dividing towns and families from each other and their places of work. The ICJ ruled that the sections of the fence inside the Green Line are in violation of international law and agreements, and freedom of the locals to movement and freedom to seek health care, employment and education. They categorized the fence as in violation of borders and essentially an attempt to move the border.

I happen to agree that the fence should simply follow the Green Line and not deviate either way, and I said it before. It's important to remember that, although any attempt to secretly move the border should not be allowed, all countries in good standing have a moral right to self defense. And in legal terms, all countries have a right to self defense. So well over 90% of the fence (95 to 98 percent, depending on estimates) was not even included in the ruling, and is presumed perfectly legal.

We should also all remember that, even though almost all shots of the fence are big concrete slabs, the vast majority of the fence is chain-link. In areas of extreme risk or heavy traffic the fence is concrete to prevent snipers on the West bank from firing through at Israeli citizens and soldiers.

Anyway, the ruling is largely solid, if we assume that the Occupied Territories are not part of Israel proper. Since the people in those areas aren't citizens of Israel, I'd say that's a pretty good assumption. Let's just make sure we don't turn this into yet more Israel-bashing, which is all too common in UN-afiliated institutions.

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