Protests as ICJ deliberates over Israeli wall
23 February 2004
AMSTERDAM — Hundreds of pro-Israel protestors gathered around the wreckage of a bombed bus in front of the Peace Palace in The Hague on Monday as the International Court of Justice (ICJ) started its hearings over Israel’s anti-terrorism wall.
The United Nations General Assembly requested the ICJ to examine whether the construction of the wall was legal, but the court ruling — if one is made — will not be binding. The ruling can influence international public opinion.
Israel claims the wall is necessary to prevent suicide bombings and the court hearings are scheduled to last three days. The Palestinians were presenting their side on Monday.
Palestinian delegation leader Nasser al-Kidwa said the construction of the wall was an illegal occupation of Palestinian land, denied Palestinians their rights and destroyed the chance of peace.
Israel is lodging an objection to the court and will not be represented during the hearing. It said the hearing fails to address the question of Palestinian terrorism and a ruling on the barrier could undermine the Middle East peace plan.
The US and many European Union nations have backed Israel’s view that the court has no jurisdiction to rule on the wall. Israel claims it is a political, not a legal dispute with the Palestinians.
Meanwhile, the bombed wreck of a bus was placed on “exhibit” in from the Peace Palace and was the focal point for the pro-Israel protestors who gathered at about 11am.
The bus was the target of a Palestinian suicide terrorist attack in Jerusalem and was flown to the Netherlands by Zaka, an orthodox-religious group which assists the victims of terrorist attacks.
The “exhibition” is backed by the Israeli Foreign Ministry and has received the go-ahead from the municipal council of The Hague.
Meanwhile, several dozen pro-Palestine supporters from the Nederlands Palestina Komitee (NPK), Stop de Bezetting (Stop the Occupation) and members of the Palestinian community also demonstrated on Monday.
The Palestinian protestors silently marched from the central square in The Hague, known as the Plein, to the Peace Palace (Vredespaleis). Pro-Palestine activist Greta Duisenberg, the Dutch wife of former European Bank president Wim Duisenberg, addressed the marchers.
To prevent clashes between opposing groups, police allotted different times for the two protests.
The Israeli wall is being built around the West Bank and will be 700km long when completed. Some sections are a concrete wall, while most parts consist of electronically monitored fences and exclusion zones.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news