The United Nations reported that its General Assembly will convene on Friday an emergency special session to examine the advisory opinion issued last week by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which found Israel’s construction of a separation wall to be illegal.
The resumption of the tenth emergency special session comes at the request of a majority of UN Member States, the Arab Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, according to Michele Montas, spokesperson for the Assembly’s President.
Last Friday July 9, the ICJ – the UN’s principal judicial organ – issued a 14-to-1 majority opinion stating that Israel’s building of a wall in the occupied Palestinian territory is illegal, and that construction must stop immediately and Israel should make reparations for any damage caused.
The World Court’s non-binding ruling also said the Assembly and Security Council should consider what steps to take to bring to an end the illegal situation created by the wall.
That meeting was the fourth resumption of the emergency special session during the Assembly’s current term. In October the 191-member body overwhelmingly adopted a measure by a vote of 144 to 4 demanding that Israel stop and reverse construction of the wall in the West Bank.
The emergency special session dates back to 1997 when Israel began construction of a new settlement south of East Jerusalem and after the Security Council met twice on that issue but failed to adopt resolutions. Using a formula known as ‘Uniting for Peace,’ which allows the Assembly to step in on security issues when the Council fails to act, the special emergency session was convened in April, July and November of that year, and also in 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001.
The Palestinians hope to get the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution demanding Israel to tear the wall down; however, they are expecting a U.S. Veto.
UN to hold session on separation fence on Friday
By Shlomo Shamir and Yuval Yoaz, Haaretz Correspondents and Reuters
United Nations spokesmen in New York indicated on Tuesday that the UN will hold an emergency session on Friday to discuss last week’s International Court of Justice advisory opinion questioning the legality of the West Bank separation fence. Delegates from dozens of countries are expected to participate in the session.
Sources in New York told Haaretz that Israel’s decision to ignore the ICJ’s ruling is likely to prompt a storm of criticism at the meeting.
On Tuesday, a draft resolution on the fence, sponsored by the PLO mission to the UN and Arab states, circulated among diplomats in New York. The draft resolution called on Israel to cease construction of the fence immediately.
Meanwhile, Israeli security officials have decided to map the route of the separation fence as close as possible to the 1967 Green Line, following the High Court of Justice’s June 30 ruling ordering that a section of the fence northwest of Jerusalem be rerouted. The security officials’ decision was relayed at the start of the week to the Justice Ministry.
In principle, the defense establishment decision pertains to the entire route of the fence, not only to the 30 kilometers whose path the court rejected.
But Justice Ministry officials believe it is unlikely that stretches of the fence that have already been completed, and which do not abut the Green Line, will be dismantled. They pointed out that the construction of the fence in these locales proves that these stretches were not disputed by legal petitions.
In the precedent-setting June 30 ruling, the High Court said Israel had a right to erect a barrier for security reasons on territory it considers ‘disputed,’ but ordered a 30-kilometer segment moved to alleviate hardships for Palestinian villages.
A Defense Ministry spokeswoman said Tuesday that a team reviewing the fence’s route was working on alternatives to present to decision-makers in the military and Defense Ministry.
‘We aspire not to separate Palestinians from their lands and build agricultural [access] gates, and of course we will try not to create enclaves,’ she said.
‘However, there might be cases where we have no other alternative,’ the spokeswoman added, citing cases where there is ‘a 20 or even 5-meter [gap] between the Israeli and Palestinian houses.’