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Jewish World Review
March 1, 2004
/ 8 Adar, 5764
The other peace fence
Why peace in the Mideast won't be won in courtroom
By now you may have read about the security fence. The one a powerful Middle Eastern nation is building to keep terrorists from crossing a porous border that separates it from an unstable, radical neighbor.
The fence intended to keep extremists from blowing up civilians. The fence that spans 45 miles and may intrude as much as four miles into the territory of the powerful nation's smaller and weaker neighbor.
No, not the fence Israel is erecting to keep suicide bombers out of its cities and towns. This fence is the one Saudi Arabia began building last fall along its border with Yemen.
A rash of terrorist bombings in Riyadh last year killed 52 people. Saudi authorities assert that Islamic radicals slipping over the border from Yemen are responsible.
The international community hasn't batted an eye at the Saudi fence. The rights of self-defense and secure borders are fundamental for all nations. All nations, that is, except Israel.
Over the past 31/2 years, 822 Israeli civilians have been killed by Palestinian terrorism. With only one-quarter the population of Saudi Arabia, Israel's annual average rate of terrorist deaths over this period is proportionately 18 times higher.
Last Sunday in Jerusalem, a Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up on a commuter bus, killing eight Israelis and wounding 60 more. The Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, an offshoot of Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, claimed responsibility.
This bombing came on the eve of opening arguments about Israel's security fence at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
The ICJ is an important and functional U.N. organ that operates on the basis of consent. It is not a compulsory, supranational Supreme Court to which the nations of the world must submit. Rather, it is an arbitration panel to which states may, by mutual agreement, voluntarily submit disputes for resolution.
Israel, however, did not agree to submit the issue of its security fence to the ICJ. The case sits in the hands of the international jurists in The Hague because 90 members of the U.N. General Assembly voted to seek an advisory opinion from the ICJ. An advisory opinion about which this bloc of nations has already established its opinion that Israel is an illegitimate state lacking the right of self-defense enshrined in Article 51 of the U.N. Charter.
The decision of the General Assembly to seek a problematic advisory opinion about the security fence is only the latest example of efforts to delegitimize Israel at the United Nations.
Last year, the U.N. Human Rights Commission singled out Israel for condemnation while ignoring the egregious human rights violations of many of the commission's own members: Sudan, Cuba, China and the commission's presiding member, Libya.
Ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick, the U.S. representative to this ignominious farce, commented: "The repeated efforts of some members of the United Nations to isolate and vilify the government of Israel are an affront to the Charter of the United Nations."
The ICJ, though, does not have to play along with such shenanigans in this case.
Recognizing that a plurality of the world's most violent and repressive regimes can turn the ICJ into a kangaroo court that lends legal sanction to the ideological motives of an international rogues' gallery, a coalition of some 40 mostly democratic nations has issued briefs opposing the ICJ's jurisdiction in the political dispute between Israelis and Palestinians.
The ICJ should not allow itself to be perverted by the political whim of a corrupt General Assembly. As it has in other cases, the ICJ should refuse to issue an advisory opinion about Israel's security fence.
The barrier to peace between Israelis and Palestinians is not this fence; rather, it is the terror supported and incited by Arafat that has made the fence necessary. Those who claim to advocate peace should focus on this problem, seek a Palestinian leadership that will return to the negotiating table with Israel and leave the ICJ to its worthwhile purpose.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington and in the media consider "must reading." Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
JWR contributor Jonathan Gurwitz, a columnist for the San Antonio Express-News, is a co-founder and twice served as Director General of the Future Leaders of
the Alliance program at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. In 1986 he
was placed on the Foreign Service Register of the U.S. State Department. Comment by clicking here.
© 2004, Jonathan Gurwitz