U.N. resolution: Israel halt security barrier
Israel to continue barrier's construction
UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- In a special emergency session, the U.N. General Assembly approved a non-binding resolution demanding that Israel halt construction of a security barrier and remove what has already been built.
Israel promptly announced it would continue ahead with barrier's construction.
"The fence will continue being built and we will go on taking care of the security of Israel's citizens," Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told Israel Radio, Reuters reported.
The resolution passed Tuesday demanded "that Israel stop and reverse the construction of the wall in the occupied Palestinian territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, which is in departure of the Armistice Line of 1949 and is in contradiction to relevant provisions of international law."
It also called on both Israelis and Palestinians to "fulfill their obligations under relevant provisions of the Road Map [for peace], the PA [Palestinian Authority] to undertake visible efforts on the ground to arrest, disrupt, and restrain individuals and groups conducting and planning violent attacks" and for "the government of Israel to take no actions undermining trust, including deportations and attacks on civilians and extra-judicial killings."
Palestinian envoy Nasser Al-Kidwa thanked the European Union, which submitted the resolution for the vote.
"We believe that those countries have done a great service to the cause of peace in our region," he said in a speech after the vote. "We would also like to express our deep appreciation to all the countries that have voted for the resolution, a resolution we sincerely hope would lead to further positive results that would spare us the need for any consequent movement later on."
The United States voted against Tuesday's resolution.
Syria, backed by the Arab League, put the new resolution before the General Assembly instead of the Security Council.
Monday, Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Dan Gillerman defended Israel's right to build the fence, saying, "The need to establish a security barrier against the infiltration of terrorists is the direct product of the continuing Palestinian strategy to encourage and tolerate terrorism that has cost hundreds of innocent lives and threatens thousands more."
Deputy U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations James Cunningham said Monday the U.S. "position on one-sided resolutions in the Security Council and General Assembly has been very clear. They are unacceptable unless they take into account the complex security situation on the ground and include a condemnation of terrorist bombings and the groups that perpetrate them."
Citing recent terrorist attacks against Israelis and Americans by Palestinian militant groups, Cunningham said, "In our view, any resolution concerning the fence must take into account the larger picture, that of the current security situation, including these devastating terrorist attacks.
"We also oppose the call for an International Court of Justice advisory opinion, a move that, in our view, will only complicate the international community's efforts to realize a two-state solution ... Injecting a new player such as the International Court of Justice into the peace process will only complicate matters and risks politicizing the court."
He said the United States is committed to the implementation of the Middle East road map "as the way forward toward the goal of the Israeli and Palestinian people living side-by-side in peace."
The Israeli government began building the barrier last year. In some spots, it is an electronic fence topped with razor wire and in other spots a concrete wall. Israel has said the barrier -- which is a few kilometers inside the West Bank in most cases but follows the contours of the border with Israel -- is necessary to stop Palestinian terrorists from entering Israel.
The Palestinians call the barrier a land grab, noting construction around Jewish settlements does not follow the so-called Green Line, the frontier between Israel and the West Bank before the 1967 Mideast war. Palestinians say the barrier already has divided Palestinian land, forcing people to climb through gaps to shop and visit family.
Israel has already constructed 93 miles (150 kilometers) of the barrier in the north. When finished the barrier will stretch 217 miles (350 kilometers) at an estimated cost of $200 million.