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UNITED NATIONS (FinalCall.com) – Observers called the 144 to 4 vote in the United Nations General Assembly, demanding that Israel dismantle part of its security wall that runs through the West Bank, a “barometer of international opinion.” The resolution says that Israel must stop and reverse the construction of the wall in the “occupied Palestinian territory, including in, and around, East Jerusalem, which is in departure of the Armistice Line of 1949 and is in contradiction to relevant provisions of international law.”
In spite of the vote, Israel maintains that it needs the barrier to protect it from suicide bombers. “The fence will continue being built and we will go on taking care of the security of Israel’s citizens,” an Israeli official said on a radio program. All the major news outlets published the statement by the official.
The Christian Science Monitor quoted an Israeli think-tank analyst who opined that the UN vote would not “have much bearing” on Israel’s actions against the Palestinians, who view the wall’s construction as a land grab. Hence, the naming of Israel’s security barrier as the “Apartheid Wall.”
Denmark is one of the 144 nations that condemned the wall. “Israel has exceeded the limit for what is acceptable, which the Israeli government should also carefully make a note of,” a Danish diplomat told reporters at the UN. Israel has already built 90 miles of its barrier, which is expected to extend a total of 180 miles through Palestinian territory.
A member of the Arab Group, speaking to The Final Call on condition his name not be used, said the adoption of the resolution will not introduce any practical progress on the Israeli-Palestinian track during the [Ariel] Sharon and [George] Bush era. “Although the resolution was a blow to Israel, it merely represents moral support for the Palestinians and the Palestinian cause,” the Arab diplomat added.
Critics of Israel’s policies charge that, with the Middle East peace process in the deep freeze, Israeli officials are using the moment as an opportunity to introduce measures that further tighten its hold on Palestinian lives and territory in the occupied West Bank. Activists report that the Israeli government decreed, on October 2, that non-Israelis must apply for written permission to enter, leave, work and live in Arab areas trapped between Israel proper and its security wall.
The Israeli Ministry of Defense also published their planned route for the barrier during the first week of October. The ministry’s map shows the barrier making a number of deep intrusions into the occupied territory to loop around Israeli settlements, leaving as many as 70,000 Palestinians and up to 10 percent of the West Bank territory on the “Israeli” side.
The new Israeli regulations have met with a storm of condemnation from Palestinians, the international community, Israeli human rights groups and, in more muted tones, from the United States.
The UN humanitarian office for the occupied territories said that the new permit system “turns the right to reside in one’s own home and with one’s family into a revocable privilege allotted on a case-by-case basis,” and raised serious concerns that “these areas would be effectively annexed to Israel.”
An activist with the Israeli human rights group Peace Now, Dror Etkes, said he believed the new developments were part of a long-term campaign to transfer Palestinians out of their Biblical land in Israel by making their lives unbearable.