Switzerland, in its capacity as guardian of the Geneva Conventions, urged Israel on Friday to promise to dismantle its West Bank separation wall in the future.

Swiss Ambassador Peter Maurer, in a report to the U.N. General Assembly, said those who ratified the convention also wanted the Palestinian Authority to keep working on its commitment to improve the security situation in Israel.

The Swiss report was requested by the General Assembly last year after the International Court in The Hague issued an advisory opinion on July 9, 2004, declaring Israel’s construction of the wall to be illegal.  On July 20, 2004, the Genera Assembly adopted The Hague’s ruling.

The International Court said the barrier should be torn down as it was built on the occupied West Bank land rather than along the pre-1967 border separating Israel and the Palestinian territory.  The wall, given its current route, separates, in most of its sections, the West Bank from the West Bank itself.

Israel says the network of walls and fences it is building in the West Bank and Jerusalem is intended to keep out Palestinian suicide bombers. Palestinians call it a land grab aimed at undermining creation of a Palestinian state.

Israeli officials recently admitted political reasons behind building the wall to annex more land to Israel.  With regard to the Jerusalem segment of the wall, some Israeli politicians admitted that it aims to increase the Jewish presence and majority in the holy city.

Israel came under fresh criticism this week after approving a segment it said would separate 55,000 Palestinian residents of Jerusalem from the rest of city and annexes 30,000 Jewish settlers instead.

The Hague also directed Switzerland to ask the governments that have ratified the convention whether an international conference was needed to ensure Israeli compliance with its obligations under the pact.

Maurer said his government’s consultations found that most convention ratifiers believed the treaty applied throughout the Palestinian territories. But he said there was little sentiment for an international conference at this time.

The Fourth Geneva Convention governs the treatment of civilians in time of war and occupation. Some believe there is controversy in the international community over the extent to which it applies to the occupied Palestinian West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The International Court opinion had already confirmed the convention applies throughout the occupied Palestinian lands, ‘including East Jerusalem, which Israel continues to contest, the report said.

Because Israel has said it considers the barrier to be a temporary means to prevent attacks, ‘a formal commitment from Israel along these lines would contribute to reducing mistrust, provided that it is accompanied by a complete freeze on all settlement activities,’ the report added.

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