U.N. Court Rejects West Bank Barrier
Michael Tarazi, a legal adviser to the Palestine Liberation Organization, called the ruling "a legal slam dunk for the Palestinians" and said he hoped it would "serve as a basis for new policies by the international community, which is called upon to actively resist Israeli violations."
But Gideon Meir, a senior Israeli Foreign Ministry official, said: "The court decided to neglect the issue of terrorism, so how can we take it seriously? If there was no terror, we wouldn't need the fence."
The decision by the court, also known as the World Court, will now go to the U.N. General Assembly, where Palestinian and other Arab diplomats are expected to press for a resolution ordering Israel to comply with the ruling or face international sanctions. The issue could end up before the Security Council, where the United States is expected to use its veto to forestall any attempt to impose sanctions.
Ahmad Jafal, 32, a Palestinian attorney who lives in Abu Dis, a town just east of Jerusalem that has been split by a section of the wall, welcomed the ruling.
"I am very happy today," said Jafal, who teaches law at Al-Quds Open University. "Even if this court ruling is not implemented, morally it is very important. It encourages the Palestinian nonviolent struggle against the wall."
Yossi Mendelevitch, an Israeli whose 13-year-old son, Yuval, was killed in a suicide bombing in Haifa in 2003, said, "No doubt the fence would have stopped this malicious murder, no doubt the fence has already stopped other attacks."
Mendelevitch criticized the court in The Hague as "biased" but said Israel should work to reroute the barrier, in line with the Israeli high court decision.
Correspondent John Ward Anderson and special correspondent Samuel Sockol in Jerusalem contributed to this report.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company
About 120 miles of the planned 447-mile barrier have been built, but the court ruled that it violates Palestinians' human rights and must come down.
(Nir Elias -- Reuters)