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Israel Rejects UN Vote on West Bank Barrier - 2004-07-21


Israel is vowing to continue building its controversial West Bank security barrier, despite a U.N. General Assembly resolution calling for Israel to dismantle it.

Senior advisors to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon say the U.N. General Assembly has no right to demand that Israel tear down the barrier.

Mr. Sharon's foreign policy advisor Dore Gold, Israel's former Ambassador to the United Nations, said, "What is more important than the 150 countries that voted at the United Nations General Assembly last night are the thousands of Israeli fatalities from Palestinian terrorism over the last two years. We are in a situation where we are facing a wave of suicide bombers, 150 suicide bombings were attempted against Israel, and therefore Israel has every moral right in the world to put up this barrier to protect its citizens, even under Article 51 of the U.N. Charter."

Mr. Gold's stand contrasted with the Palestinian Minister for Negotiations, Saeb Erekat, who praised the U.N. resolution and said there must be more action to ensure that Israel is forced to adopt it.

"This is an historic resolution and we urge the international community to have the Israeli government comply," said Mr. Erekat. "The wall cannot stand and we hope that the international community will exert every possible effort to have the Israeli government comply with this resolution, because at the end of the day you are either for international law or against it. There is nothing in between."

At this stage, Israel is under no obligation to act as resolutions of the U.N. General Assembly are non-binding.

The Palestinian delegation is therefore considering bringing the matter before the U.N. Security Council.

Israeli officials say if the Palestinians do take such action they hope that the United States and other nations will use their veto powers to prevent the most powerful body at the United Nations from adopting any similar resolution.

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