Terror Victims Want to Attend Fence Hearing at Int’l Court

Yuval Yoaz

Terror Victims Want to Attend Fence Hearing at Int’l Court



The Organization of Casualties of Terror Acts in Israel, known by its Hebrew acronym Almagor, announced Friday that it plans to ask the International Court of Justice in The Hague to add the organization as a party in the discussion of the West Bank security fence. The move comes in response to the court’s decision to allow the Arab League to be a party to the hearing.

A spokesman for the organization clarified that “it is not that we are overjoyed at the fence, which cheapens the lives of those living on the other side and gives us a temporary excuse not to eradicate the terror infrastructure, but we cannot allow this unbridled hypocrisy at The Hague. We will ensure that other groups, such as the Holocaust survivors’ organization, attend the hearing, to remind the court what its real purpose is.”

On Thursday, the ICJ authorized the Arab League to take part in proceedings against the fence. The court reached the decision after a request was submitted by the Arab League. The International Court of Justice in The Hague said in a statement the League would be invited to give information in writing and orally.

Responding to the court’s decision, Hassan Abu Libdeh, the director of Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ahmed Qurie’s office, said the Arab League and non-Arab states would make presentations at The Hague.

“This reflects the fact that the wall threatens the peace process and not only Palestinian lives,” Abu Libdeh told Reuters. “It also means that there is a deep belief among the Arabs and the international community that this wall might lead to the expulsion and a new exodus of the Palestinians and therefore create chaos in the whole region.”

Senior ministers will convene next week to decide on the position that Israel will present at a hearing on the legality of the construction of the West Bank security fence, which is scheduled to take place at the end of February at the ICJ at The Hague.

British international law expert Daniel Bethlehem, who will represent Israel in The Hague, suggested that Israel present to the ICJ in writing its opposition to the hearing, and deny the ICJ’s authority to deal with the topic of the separation fence. According to Bethlehem’s proposal, Israel will state that building the fence was justified for security reasons.

Other officials believe that Israel must appear at the ICJ deliberation, scheduled for February 23, to present arguments justifying the country’s right to construct the fence, for reasons of self-defense.

Legal advisors believe that the ICJ judges will determine that the construction of the separation fence contradicts international law.

The High Court of Justice decided Thursday to hold a hearing on the legality of the construction fence where it strays from the 1967 Green Line border, ahead of the ICJ hearing.

Supreme Court Justice Yaacov Turkel said the petition would be discussed before February 15.

The hearing will enable the State Prosecution to hold a “dress rehearsal” for its arguments on the fence in front of an Israeli court, before it goes on to present its arguments in front of an international court.

Most of the petitions submitted to the High Court on the fence deal with the expropriation of Palestinian lands, the deterioration in living conditions of Palestinian farmers who have been separated from their fields, or with the procedures involved in opening the fence gates to allow passage.

The High Court will, however, only discuss the petition from the Center for the Defense of the Individual, submitted by attorneys Michael Sfarad and Avigdor Feldman, which deals with the construction of the fence over the Green Line border, in the West Bank.

The center requested that the hearing take place before February 23, when The Hague debate is scheduled to begin.

“We believe that before an international body discusses the legality of the separation wall… it is worthwhile that the highest Israeli legal body discuss the issue,” the petitioners said.