TUESDAY, 09 JULY 2013 15:18 ALTERNATIVE INFORMATION CENTER (AIC)
The ICJ advisory opinion condemning Israel’s Separation Wall, made public nine years ago today, addresses only the legal dimensions of the Wall. As AIC research highlights, however, the Wall must be understood within the context of Israel’s overall occupation and colonial policies. The most relevant critique of the Wall project must involve its unequivocal rejection and call for full equality and justice for all those living between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.
Separation Wall near Jerusalem’s Abu Dis (Photo: Wikimedia)
The advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, made public on 9 July 2004, is unequivocal in condemning the Wall that Israel has erected inside the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). However, the ICJ’s ability to address only the legal dimensions of the current Wall has increased the vacuum in accountability for the Wall’s other, equally important spheres and impacts. The universe inhabited by the Palestinian communities directly affected by Israel’s
Wall is far from being exclusively legal; the Wall’s disastrous consequences intrude into every arena of life including the familial, social, cultural, historical, economic and political. While condemning as illegal the sections of the Wall built inside the OPT, the ICJ’s mandate precludes it from addressing the very legitimacy of Israel’s policy to build a physical barrier between itself and its occupied Palestinian neighbors.
Since 2002 countless articles, reports and op-eds have been written on the Wall by international, Palestinian and Israeli organizations and activists. Nearly all focus on the intrusive route of the current Wall into the West Bank and its various devastating effects on the Palestinian population. However, no report has systematically and comprehensively studied the project of the Wall as such; in other words, the very notion of a Wall regardless of its route. Consequently, the vast majority of existing reports end up promoting – explicitly or implicitly – the ‘alternative’ of a ‘Green Line Wall,’ that is, a Wall relocated to the 1949 Armistice Line between Israel and Jordan.
In so doing, international, Israeli and even some Palestinian statements and reports tacitly accept the basic legitimacy of the Wall phenomenon itself. The question emerges: why is it that so few critics of the Wall have been willing to publicly and unequivocally denounce this monstrous project as illegitimate in its totality irrespective of its route?
This booklet posits that many of the Wall’s critics are reluctant to unambiguously challenge the security justification propounded by the Israeli Government, even if they do adopt a more moderate, ‘security discourse light’. Furthermore, many critics of the current Wall do not doubt the effectiveness of a physical barrier in meeting the security needs of Israel. However, from a narrow legalistic approach effectively propose that the Wall must be moved to the Green Line. They consider the Green Line to be a de facto border within which Israel can exercise its sovereign rights and from which point they see only ‘proportional’ harm being done to the Palestinians in the OPT.
From the perspective of International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law it is clear that the gravest breaches occur where the Wall transgresses the Green Line and penetrates the West Bank. However, the attempts of many of the Wall’s critics to propose a new route – or ‘less harmful’ Wall – represent what is termed in this booklet as ‘misguided constructivism’ which for all intents and purposes ends up undermining the much-needed rejection of the Wall project in its entirety.
Ironically, the Israeli Government itself does not recognize the Green Line as any type of border and is careful not to build the Wall along this route so as not to grant it official recognition; to do so would limit Israel’s own expansionist territorial aims of incorporating as much land from beyond the Green Line into Israel as possible. Furthermore, the Israeli Government has sought to elicit popular and internationalsupport for the current Wall by engaging in a duplicitous double play.
While on the one hand claiming that the Wall is being built on its current route for maximum security, in other contexts Israel admits that the Wall’s route is designed to include as many settlers and settlements as possible. In fact, the security rationale of the Wall has been widely challenged, even within Israel’s own security and military establish-ment who claim that the winding and lengthy route of the current Wall is practically indefensible.
The unilateral building of a Wall, regardless of its route, must be viewed within the larger context of 37 years of Israeli occupation and colonialism in the West Bank and Gaza. Analyzed from this perspective, even a Green Line Wall would solidify the current closure and curfew policies; destroy what is left of the shattered Palestinian economy by cutting it off from the Israeli economy upon which the occupation has made it totally dependent; signal the explicit abandonment of any hopes for a just and negotiated end to the conflict; and undermine any possibility for a viable Palestinian state. Therefore, the only genuine critique of the Wall project must be an unequivocal rejection of a physical barrier and a call for the end of occupation and full equality and justice for all those living between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.
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