While acknowledging Israel's enduring suicide attacks, Security Council speakers today treated the building of a barrier between itself and the West Bank with some scepticism, saying the wall sometimes went over the 1949 armistice line into Israeli-occupied Palestinian land.
The more than 40 speakers during the daylong debate discussed a resolution sponsored by Syria, which is chairing the Arab Group for October and requested the open meeting. The text's main operative paragraph would have the Council decide "that the construction by Israel, the occupying power, of a wall in the Occupied Territories departing from the armistice line of 1949 is illegal under relevant provisions of international law and must be ceased and reversed."
Palestinian Permanent Observer Nasser al-Kidwa said Israel's claim that the wall was a security measure to prevent suicide bombings was incredible and illogical since Israel could have built the barrier along the armistice Green Line.
Despite the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibiting such activity, the occupying power had illegally transferred more than 400,000 Israeli settlers to more than 200 settlements built on 8 per cent of Palestinian land, he said.
Responding, Israeli Ambassador Dan Gillerman said with nearly 6,000 Israelis injured and 870 killed since September 2000, Israel had very few options for protecting its citizens.
The security fence - which was mainly a chain-linked fence, he said - was one of the most effective non-violent methods and would improve the daily life of Palestinians by reducing Israel's involvement in Palestinian areas and allowing the removal of roadblocks and checkpoints.
Ambassador Fayssal Mekdad of Syria said it was significant that the Israeli representative had failed to mention where the wall was to be erected - on occupied Palestine territories that Israel wanted to annex.
Despite appeals from its own allies, Israel was persisting in building the wall, which in many places ran east of the Green Line and sealed off some Palestinian communities and undermined the continuity of a Palestinian state, said Senegalese Ambassador Papa Louis Fall, chairman of the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.
This action prejudged the final outcome of status negotiations, he said.
Video of Security Council meeting