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US Says Israel Barrier Decision May Complicate Peace Efforts - 2004-07-09

The United States says it is still studying Friday's ruling by the International Court of Justice that declared Israel in violation of international law for building a barrier along the West Bank, which Israel says is needed to keep out terrorists.

State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher told reporters the U.S. view is that Friday's court decision could complicate Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.

"We submitted a written statement to the court discouraging it from taking up the (U.N.) General Assembly's request, and from taking any actions that would interfere with, or be inconsistent with, the peace efforts that we are pursuing," Mr. Boucher said.

The U.N. court's decisions are advisory and not legally binding, and Israel said it would not act on the court's decision. Palestinian leaders hailed the court's ruling.

The Bush administration has already made its view clear to Israel that the barrier is not helpful to the peace process.

Palestinians have called the barrier an attempt to grab occupied West Bank land. Israel says the barrier is necessary to protect against Palestinian terrorist attacks.

Israel's Supreme Court has already ordered parts of the wall to be rerouted to better balance Israeli security needs with humanitarian needs of the Palestinians.