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PLO condemns international complicity on 12th anniversary of ICJ ruling on Israeli separation wall

July 9, 2016 11:35 A.M. (Updated: July 10, 2016 1:02 P.M.)
A Palestinian youth rides his bicycle next to Israel's separation wall on the outskirts of Jerusalem in an undated photo. (AFP/Ahmad Gharabli, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The 12th anniversary of a decision by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that deemed Israel’s separation wall illegal under international law was marked on Saturday, as the PLO released a statement criticizing the international community for their complicity in Israel’s continued annexation and occupation of the Palestinian territory.

The ICJ issued an advisory opinion in 2004 stating that the wall was illegal under international law and its construction must stop immediately, adding that reparations should be paid to Palestinians whose properties were damaged as a result of the construction.

Twelve years later, the construction of the wall has continued unabated as more than 62 percent of the construction has been completed, encroaching deep into the Palestinian territory, leaving Palestinian neighborhoods stranded on both sides of the barrier, and isolating communities from their agricultural lands.

In 2002, the Israeli government decided to build the wall in the Palestinian territory for purported security reasons, a decision which has served to separate Palestinians from “their lands, jobs, social and health services, and holy sites, including the total isolation of occupied East Jerusalem from the rest of occupied Palestine,” the PLO statement highlighted.

The majority of the wall’s construction, 85 percent, has been built inside the occupied Palestinian territory over the Green Line, consuming vast tracts of Palestinian land along its way and consuming land in Area C -- the two-thirds of the the West Bank that are under full Israeli military and civil control -- where illegal settlements have been built or are planned to be constructed in the future.

According to Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, eight Palestinian neighborhoods in occupied East Jerusalem, including Shufat refugee camp, were separated from the city by the barrier, leaving the communities in a no man’s land without access to municipal services, while their economies have severely suffered after the wall’s construction.

The PLO slammed the international community’s complicity in the statement, saying that countries have failed to acknowledge the ICJ’s ruling in their trade and diplomatic partnerships with the Israeli state, while routinely legitimizing Israel’s illegal annexation of Palestinian land by sending official representatives to meet with Israeli leaders in East Jerusalem -- separated from the rest of the West Bank as a result of the separation barrier.

The statement also pointed out the involvement of international companies in the illegal construction of the wall and the annexation of Palestinian territory by providing machinery to the Israeli state to construct the wall, while facilitating Israel’s continued expansion of illegal Israeli settlements.

The PLO added that Colombia’s recently signed Free Trade Agreement with Israel served to further legitimize the illegal policies of the state, as the agreement did not distinguish between the land of Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, while other countries have failed to rectify their already-established trade deals with Israel following the ICJ decision.

The statement urged the international community to take practical steps to address the illegal actions of the Israeli state, including contributing to the Human Rights Council Database on companies involved in illegal settlement building in the occupied territory, labeling and banning products originating from Israeli settlements, and recognizing Palestine as an independent state on 1967 borders.

“The way for peace is justice, not impunity. By continuing to tolerate 50 years of Israeli occupation and colonization of Palestine, the international community is facilitating Israeli plans and strategies for annexation of Palestinian land and violating their own obligations vis-a-vis the inalienable right of the Palestinian people for self-determination,” the statement read.

The construction of the separation barrier has received strong condemnation by rights groups and international leaders. However, the construction has continued despite the ICJ’s ruling in 2004.

While Israel claims the wall must be built to ensure security of Israelis from potential Palestinian attacks by limiting Palestinian movement into Israel, rights groups have instead underscored the wall’s annexation of Palestinian territory as a main driver for its continued construction, while establishing permanence for illegal settlement construction by engulfing parts of Area C into the Israeli side of the wall.
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