January 25, 2004
 

Statement by Israeli Peace and Human Rights Organizations
On The Construction Of The Wall In Occupied Palestinian Territory


We, the undersigned Israeli peace and human rights organizations, wish to make our views known to the International Court of Justice concerning the Wall currently under construction by the Israeli government in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

As Israeli citizens, we are troubled that the position of the Israeli government regarding this Wall does not reflect our views, nor does it necessarily reflect the views of the Israeli public.  We represent a significant segment of the population in Israel who object to construction of this Wall, and we call upon the Court to demand that it be dismantled, for the reasons that follow.

The construction and location of the Wall are in grave breach of international humanitarian law as articulated inter alia by the Fourth Geneva Convention.  The Wall is actually a complex system of walls and electronic fences that surround and isolate tens of thousands of Palestinians who are innocent of all wrongdoing.  While Israel clearly has the responsibility to defend its citizens against terrorist and other attacks, we hold that the Wall  although presented to the public as a security measure  in actuality constitutes a political border that defines the Bantustan-like state that Israel is planning for the Palestinians in the West Bank. This is evident from the route of the Wall which, by surrounding Areas A and B, creates “cantons” (as Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has referred to them) in which the Palestinians will be confined.  Indeed, the Wall reaches deep into Palestinian territory in order to encompass “settlement blocs,” thus extending the Israeli civilian and military presence far inside Palestinian territory.  This route clearly reveals that the Wall is designed to serve political, not security, objectives. It will unilaterally define a boundary that ensures Israeli control of the entire region between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River.

Israel argues “military necessity” in its defense of the Wall. International humanitarian law, however, mandates proportionality between military necessity and the well-being of the civilian population under occupation.  The Fourth Geneva Convention obligates the occupying power to respect and ensure the fundamental rights of the civilian population to personal security, dignity, a livelihood, freedom of movement, and access to property, education and medical care  all irreparably harmed by the route and scale of the Wall, as well as the constraints on movement that it entails.  Despite the serious repercussions of its construction, no study was undertaken by the Israeli government to survey the impact of the Wall on the civilian Palestinian population.
 
In addition, the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits an Occupying Power from making its occupation permanent.  The erection of a $2-3 billion system of massive barriers, walls, electronic fences, security roads, roadblocks, checkpoints, and military installations constitutes such permanent presence, especially when taking into account the dramatic alteration in land use, demography, induced population transfer, and other irreversible changes in Palestinian life emanating from the presence of the Wall.

We the undersigned have approached the Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs with our request to include this statement in the materials presented to the Court.  It is our contention, based upon incontrovertible evidence, that the Wall in its present route constitutes a severe violation of fundamental human rights, serves political rather than security ends, and throws up a major obstacle to a just and sustainable peace between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples.

We say to the Israeli government and to the Court as one:  Not in our name.  Justice requires not only condemnation of the Wall, but its immediate dismantling.

For a Just Peace,

The Alternative Information Center
    (A joint Israeli-Palestinian organization)
Bat Shalom
The Coalition of Women for a Just Peace
The Fifth Mother
Gush Shalom
The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD)
MachsomWatch
New Profile
Noga
Rabbis for Human Rights
Tandi
Women in Black
Yesh Gvul

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(Cover Letter to the Israeli Government)

January 25, 2004
 

To:
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
Foreign Minister Sylvan Shalom
 

DEFENDING THE WALL AT THE INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE
NOT IN OUR NAME!
 

Towards the end of February the International Court of Justice in The Hague will begin its proceedings on the issue of the “"Separation Wall” that your government is constructing in the depths of the Palestinian areas of West Bank at an accelerated pace. According to the Israeli media, you intend to defend your policies on the grounds that the Wall is a security matter intended to prevent terrorist attacks. It seems appropriate, in the spirit of democratic rules, that you also inform the Court that in their arguments your representatives do not speak for the entire Israeli public. In your building of the Wall  especially to the degree that it constitutes a political “fact”" rather than a true security barrier  and in your defiance of international law and international public opinion, your government and its lawyers do not speak in our name.

We, the undersigned, citizens of Israel to whom the Wall is supposed to give security, reject your claims completely. If you sincerely sought to prevent the entry of suicide bombers to Israel, you could have erected the Wall along the Green Line, the recognized de facto border of the State of Israel, as the most prominent of your generals urged and at a greatly reduced cost. The Wall you are constructing robs land and livelihood from hundreds of thousands of Palestinians  but also eliminates crucial resources from your own increasing impoverished and desperate society.

If your government sincerely desired an end to terrorism and security for our people, it would have actively engaged in a political process and refrained from a unilateral act of constructing a Wall that only perpetuates the Occupation and the conflict. In this way you would have dried up the swamp of misery, hatred and repression that motivates the attacks and endangers our lives. This may have saved us from even the perception that we needed such a Wall.

There is no conclusion other than your true objective in constructing the Wall along its present intrusive and indefensible route are motivated by political aims rather than genuine security concerns. The aim is to grab more and more Palestinian land, to annex large settlement blocs and in the end to foreclose the possibility of a viable Palestinian state. We refuse to be part of any of these endeavors, which we utterly oppose. Your representatives before the International Court of Justice do not speak in our names or in the names of millions of Israelis who yearn for an end to the conflict. We demand that you convey the attached letter expressing our opposition to the Wall as a grave violation of Palestinian human rights, of international humanitarian law and of the desire of both our peoples for a just and lasting peace.

We await your reply.

[signed: the 13 organizations]

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PRESS RELEASE  January 27, 2004

ISRAELI PEACE ORGANIZATIONS TO PRIME MINISTER SHARON:
NOT IN OUR NAME! DO NOT JUSTIFY THE WALL AT THE INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE
 

 
The “Separation Wall”" violates international law which holds Occupying Powers responsible for the well being  of the civilian population living under their control.

The Israeli peace and human rights organizations demand that the Government   include their opposition to the Wall in Israel’s brief to the International Court in The Hague . We declare to both the Israeli Government and the Court:  “Not In Our Name” will you justify the Wall in its present route that creates political facts on the ground whose implications are a permanent occupation, repression of the Palestinians’ basic human rights and the perpetuation of the conflict.

Yesterday, January 26, a dozen Israeli peace and human rights organizations presented a letter to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Foreign Minister Sylvan Shalom stating that the Separation Wall constitutes a brutal violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention that requires proportionality between the security concerns of an Occupying Power and the well-being of the civilian population under their control.

The Israeli peace and human rights organizations turned to the Israeli government with the demand that it include their opposition to the Wall, based on detailed objections arising from international humanitarian law, in the materials presented to the International Court of Justice in The Hague. The letter states: We say to the Israeli government and to the Court as one:  Not in our name.  Justice requires not only condemnation of the Wall, but its immediate dismantling. As Israeli citizens, we are troubled that the position of the Israeli government regarding this Wall does not reflect our views, nor does it necessarily reflect the views of the Israeli public.  We represent a significant segment of the population in Israel who object to construction of this Wall, and we call upon the Court to demand that it be dismantled

[signed: the 13 Israeli  PPPeacde & Human Rights organizations]