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Israel's security barrier

Last updated: 2004-08-03

The Board of Deputies President, Henry Grunwald QC, has written to Foreign Secretary Jack Straw deploring the British Government's decision to vote in favour of the recent United Nation's General Assembly vote on Israel's security barrier.

Whilst the British Government had previously voiced its objections to the route of the security barrier, the judgement by the International Court of Justice proclaimed that the very existence and concept of the barrier was illegal. The judgement gave no consideration whatsoever to Israel's reasons for erecting the barrier and made no mention of the terrorist onslaught which the barrier is successfully preventing.

In his letter to the Foreign Secretary, Mr. Grunwald drew attention to the recent ruling by the Israeli Supreme Court which he stated had delivered a far more relevant and considered criticism of the route of the barrier. In contrast to the ICJ, this was based upon the respective claims of Palestinians to social and economic life and those of Israelis to protection from terror. The Government of Israel immediately announced its willingness to comply with the Supreme Court judgement and changed the route of the barrier. Mr. Grunwald commented that the ICJ made no comparable assessment and completely dismissed the right in international law of a state to protect its citizens.

At a Board plenary meeting last month, Mr. Grunwald added: "In its so-called judgement, the court ignored both the true intentions of the barrier and its success, as terrorist strikes carried out have fallen nearly eighty percent since construction began.  If the court is incapable of offering an even-handed objective judgment, with true intent for peace, then Israel can legitimately discount its ruling.  The corresponding judgement on this issue made by Israel's Supreme Court, which actually weighed up the competing claims of the Palestinian and the Israeli authorities, constitutes a far more realistic and balanced approach which the government of Israel has commendably accepted.  You only have to look at how many successful suicide bombings there have been since that part of the fence was constructed to prove the necessity for the barrier."