Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom flew to New York on Monday for a series of meetings with dozens of foreign ministers and diplomats regarding his country’s persistence in constructing a wall which separates it from Palestinian areas.
The wall, which has already damaged Palestinian farmland, meanders deep into the West Bank and absorbs huge swathes of Palestinian territory into Israel.
In many instances, the part-wall-part-fence structure reduces Palestinian population centres to virtual detention camps.
The International Court of Justice in the Hague ruled in July that the entire barrier was illegal and should be dismantled. The non-binding ruling also said Palestinian farmers should be compensated.
ICJ ruling rejected
However, Israel, capitalising on strong support from its US ally, rejected the ruling, saying the ICJ had no jurisdiction to look into the issue.
Shalom will threaten denying
According to officials travelling with Shalom, the Israeli minister will warn UN members that unless they stop pressuring Israel on the separation wall and settlement expansion in the West Bank, they will be denied a role in the “peace process”.
The aides, quoted by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, did not say explicitly which countries Shalom was alluding to.
However, Israel has repeatedly lambasted the EU for criticising Israeli land-grabs and settlement-building policies in the West Bank, viewing the European stance as bias against Tel Aviv.
In addition, Shalom will seek to prevent the UN from reasserting previous resolutions on the Palestinian issue, especially those affirming the illegality of the Israeli occupation and the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes in what is now Israel.
An Israeli foreign ministry spokesperson said Israel was amending the route of the separation barrier in several localities in the West Bank to minimise the damage inflicted on Palestinians.
This claim, however, is rejected by Palestinian officials who accuse Israel of “grabbing Palestinian land and uprooting Palestinian trees in Hebron and Ram Allah and lying about these crimes in New York and the capitals of Western countries”.
“You see, Israel is building this diabolic structure in order to steal as much of our land as possible. Therefore, the international community should pay more attention to what Israeli bulldozers are doing than to what Israeli spokespersons are saying,” said Palestinian Authority (PA) official Saib Uraiqat.
For its part, the PA is carrying out a counter-campaign at the UN aimed at getting the international community to follow up on the ICJ ruling.
Uraiqat: Wall is designed to steal
“We are not merely looking for a reassertion of UN resolutions. We want the international community to act upon these resolutions; we want the UN to take a firm action that would assure Israeli compliance,” PA Deputy Foreign Minister Abd Allah Abd Allah told Aljazeera.net on Monday.
He described Israeli efforts to discourage the UN from holding any further discussion of the wall as “an exposed blackmailing and arm-twisting tactic that won’t work”.
“Israel is becoming a pariah state, Israel is flying in the face of the international community and UN resolutions and brazenly violating international law and the fourth Geneva convention,” he said.
Asked why the PA would push for further UN action on the wall when there was a likelihood that the US would veto any anti-Israeli draft resolution at the Security Council, Abd Allah said the international community would have to “choose between a world ruled by the rule of international law or one ruled by the law of the jungle”.
“The UN Security Council will not be the end of it. We will ask for a meeting of the signatories of the Geneva Convention to underscore the illegality of what Israel is doing in our country … we will put the international community face to face with its responsibilities.”
US saying nothing
Earlier this week, an Israeli official pointed out that the US was “saying nothing” about Israeli plans for annexation in the West Bank as well as the planned building of thousands of new settler units in the occupied territories.
“The Americans didn’t express any opposition to the new route of the separation wall.
“So we are concluding by this that we can proceed,” the official was quoted as saying.