For several years, Israel has had a security fence in place to protect its citizens against infiltration by Palestinian terrorist homicide bombers. It has worked, saving many lives of both Israelis and Palestinians by limiting the opportunities for such bombings and thereby resulting in less need for Israeli counter-attacks.
Nevertheless, without any jurisdiction to adjudicate the matter, the International Court of Justice issued a so-called non-binding “advisory” opinion in 2004 against Israel that declared the fence illegal. Using this bogus opinion as their justification, Israel’s many enemies in the United Nations General Assembly are now demanding their pound of flesh. They are seeking to use the United Nations to force Israel to make monetary reparations for all the damage that was supposedly being caused by the construction of the security fence. To further dramatize their cause, they use the misnomer of “apartheid wall” to describe what is largely a defensive chain link fence supplemented by a series of ditches, patrol roads, observation points and only a few miles of actual concrete barriers.
As a result of continued Palestinian agitation, the General Assembly passed overwhelmingly last December a resolution establishing a Register of Damage for Palestinian claims under the official title of “The United Nations Register of Damage caused by the Construction of the Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.” It is sad that even countries like the United Kingdom, which should have known better, decided to appease the Islamic terrorists and their friends by supporting the phony UN reparations program to compensate the Palestinians en masse for their self-inflicted injuries. At least the United States got it right and voted against the resolution.
On May 10, 2007, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in compliance with the General Assembly resolution, appointed three members of the Board of the United Nations Register of Damage to administer the program.
More than $3 million has been appropriated during the current biennial UN budget cycle for this travesty. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs R. Nicholas Burns, the third ranking official in the State Department, told me during a brief conversation I had with him last week that the United States remains opposed to the UN’s involvement in the security fence controversy, calling the whole Register of Damage idea “unfair” and costing the UN more loss of credibility as a participant in helping to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But he was silent on the question of whether we would be willing to cut off the amount from our billions of dollars of contributions to the UN budget that helps defray the costs of these kinds of blatantly unfair programs and of UN bodies that discriminate against Israel. Of course, the most obvious example is the UN Human Rights Council, which Mr. Burns criticized for its obsessive animus against Israel but which (while not joining as a member) we still presumably help to fund.
If it were not for the Palestinian extremists’ acts of terrorism, no fence would have been necessary in the first place and a viable two-state solution would have emerged long ago. There were no checkpoints to speak of in the West Bank or Gaza, nor any security fence separating Israel proper from the Palestinian terror bases, until the homicide bombings against Israeli civilians began in earnest. Nearly 1,000 Israelis had been killed, and thousands severely injured in these attacks, which the Palestinian Authority did nothing to prevent. Amidst the tragic wreckage of innocent lives and property left behind by the homicide bomb attacks, Israel’s calls for the international community to condemn the attacks as blatant acts of terrorism in violation of international law fell on deaf ears. Instead, the international community – through the United Nations General Assembly and its subsidiary bodies – followed a familiar pattern of malignant neglect of the Israelis’ plight and unabashed support for whatever the Palestinians asked for no matter how barbaric their conduct.
So Israel decided to take matters into its own hands and seized upon the non-violent measure of building their security fence. As Israel’s delegate pointed out during the General Assembly debate on the fence reparations issue last December, “while the inconveniences by building the fence were reversible, the murder of Israelis by Palestinian terrorists was not. The fence saved lives. The moment terror ended was the same moment the fence would no longer be necessary.”
Meanwhile, Israel’s own judicial system has been dealing effectively with any legitimate claims of hardship caused by the location of the fence. In addition to some court-ordered re-routing of the fence, Israel has established a fully functional and transparent mechanism that has reviewed some 140 complaints brought by Palestinians to Israel’s High Court. Close to $1.5 million has been paid to Palestinian individuals and organizations that had petitioned its High Court with authentic grievances. For the United Nations to spend more than double that amount this year for yet another UN-sponsored Palestinian propaganda forum is obscene. Israel’s enemies will not be satisfied until Israel takes down the fence altogether and thereby literally opens the door to a flood of homicide bombers entering Israel proper and targeting Israeli civilians for death.
Concurrently with building the fence, Israel took a significant risk for peace by ceding full control of Gaza to the Palestinian Authority without any conditions imposed on the Palestinians other than to leave Israelis living on the Israeli side of the border alone to live in peace. This decision gave the Palestinians the chance to demonstrate their capability for self-governance. As usual, they blew an opportunity to help their own people lead a better life. Instead, Hamas has led the Palestinian government to the lowest common denominator of internecine violence, which it then has blamed Israel for fomenting. Even with the security fence to keep out the homicide bombers, Israel is still under relentless attack as Hamas continues to fire hundreds of rockets at Israel from Gaza, killing a woman and wreaking physical destruction and psychological warfare on the civilian population in the last week alone. Israel’s calls on the international community to take action immediately to cause Hamas to stop firing rockets at Israel from Gaza have also fallen on deaf ears.
What is Israel to do? Watch and do nothing while its most vulnerable citizens come under deadly rocket attacks? Agree to yet another cease-fire when terrorist groups like Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad simply exploit the lulls to build up their weaponry for their next unprovoked attack? Accept, in place of its own military forces, a UN force in Gaza which at best will be as impotent as the UN force now in Lebanon and at worst will side with the Palestinians? None of these options are acceptable under present circumstances.
Any reprisal actions that Israel decides to take on its own to defend its citizens from the terrorists’ unprovoked rocket attacks – including more arrests of Hamas officials, another full-scale defensive military thrust into Gaza and the targeting of Hamas leaders for elimination – would be perfectly justified. However, they will no doubt be roundly criticized around the world by the same anti-Semitic critics who have condemned Israel for building the security fence to protect its civilian population from the homicide bombers.
The spectacle of Palestinians complaining about the security fence and Israel’s defensive moves in Gaza sound very much like the case of the child who murders his parents and then begs the court for mercy because he is now an orphan. If the fence cuts into Palestinian territory, that is simply the price their rejectionist leaders are imposing on their own people. When the Palestinians and their supporters decide to give as much compensation to the loved ones in Israel who lost their children to the homicide bombers as they have given to the families of the homicide bombers themselves, then perhaps there can be some consideration of mercy from a legitimate court operating under the rule of law.
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