Tutu: No security without justice
- Tutu: No security without justice
Palestinians are urged, rightly, to trade terrorism for non-violence.
When they do, as in turning to the International Court of Justice
regarding Ariel Sharon's wall in the West Bank and Jerusalem, they are
told that the ruling means nothing.
Israel says the court is irrelevant, and the White House adds: "We do
not believe that that's the appropriate forum to resolve what is a
political issue." Canada says the same thing.
Zalman Shoval, an adviser to Sharon, says the World Court's historic
ruling "is not a legal event; it's a political event."
The conundrum that follows is this: The issue must be tackled
politically but the court's ruling must be ignored because it is
There are other obfuscations and distortions.
Senator Hilary Clinton says the wall/fence/barrier is Israel's
"non-violent response" to Palestinian suicide bombings. It is. So is
the Palestinian decision to turn to the court in The Hague as well as
the courts in Israel. But such a balanced view is not allowed to
intrude on our one-sided narrative.
The wall is needed for Israeli security. The wall works. Suicide
bombings are down to about zero. Which is why most Israelis support
it. But that is not what the World Court ruled on, contrary to the
It acknowledged that Israel faces "numerous indiscriminate and deadly
acts of violence" and has "the right, and indeed the duty, to respond
in order to protect the life of its citizens."
Rather, the court ruled on the illegality of much of the fence
encroaching into Palestinian land to wrap around many Jewish settlements.
The third of the fence already built led to the appropriation of
Palestinian land, the ripping out of tens of thousands of olive
groves, and the encircling of thousands of Palestinians into enclaves,
cutting them off from schools, agricultural lands and workplaces
that, said the court, is against international law, on three counts.
The wall impedes the liberty of movement of Palestinians, in violation
of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
It impedes "the right to work, to health, education and to an adequate
standard of living," in violation of the International Covenant of
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the U.N. Convention on the
Rights of the Child.
It "contributes to demographic changes," in contravention of the
Israel, therefore, must "cease forthwith the construction of the wall
in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around
Jerusalem." Israel must "return the land, orchards, olive groves and
other immovable property seized," and, where too late, pay compensation.
We may disagree. But let's not pretend that the World Court is telling
Israel not to protect itself.
The court also rejected the argument that the barrier is temporary. It
sided with the Palestinians that it is de facto annexation of land.
The vote was 14 to 1, the lone dissenter being the American
representative. It's America and Israel vs. the rest of the world, yet
Lost in all the arguments is the fact that the court's judgment echoes
two rulings by Israel's own Supreme Court, ordering a freeze on one
section of the wall and the rerouting of another.
Of the wall's impact on Palestinians northwest of Jerusalem, the
Israeli judges said it "would separate landowners from tens of
thousands of dunams (quarter acres) of land ... and would generally
burden the entire way of life in petitioners' villages."
The fence caused Palestinians hardship in "a severe and acute way,"
"severely violated" their freedom of movement and "severely impaired"
The major difference between the World Court and the Israeli court is
that the latter approves expropriating Palestinian land for the sake
of Israeli security, so long as that does not cause undue hardship to
Sharon is adjusting the wall's route in deference to the Israeli
court. But he is mocking the World Court. He is doing so for the same
reason that he ignores and vilifies the United Nations.
Palestinians must cower to Israeli dictates. That is the centrality of
this debate. The rest is spin, dutifully repeated by many North
American commentators and editorialists.
None of this excuses the stupidities of Yasser Arafat and the
disintegration of the Palestinian Authority under him, leading to
lawlessness and gang rule.
This is what U.N. special envoy Terje Roed-Larsen said in a report to
the Security Council Tuesday. That Sharon helped undermine the
Authority, as Roed-Larsen also notes, does not derogate from the blame
The only sign of possible relief in this dreary political landscape is
the coming Likud-Labour coalition. Shimon Peres, the Nobel Peace Prize
winner, has a better vision of how to come to terms with the Arabs. As
a start, he will help push Sharon's proposed pullout from the Gaza Strip.
He understands, as Sharon does not seem to, that "there is no security
without law," as the three Israeli court judges said.
There's none without justice either, as Bishop Desmond Tutu said in an
In Toronto to deliver a eulogy for Bishop Ted Scott of the Anglican
Church of Canada who fought against apartheid, Tutu said of the
"No matter how powerful one side is, there will never be true
security. That's what we learned in South Africa. You will never get
true security from the barrel of a gun. As long as we are able to
humiliate, subdue and bully the other side, so long will we remain
Haroon Siddiqui is the Star's editorial page editor emeritus. His
column appears Thursday and Sunday. hsiddiq@thestar.
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