The following letter to the editor ran in the Dec. 28, 2007 Washington Times:
In "Cost stalls West Bank wall" (Page 1, Dec. 19), Joshua Mitnick writes:
"For Palestinians, the barrier has placed yet another restriction on movement and eaten up thousands of acres of land. The United Nations' International Court of Justice declared the barrier a violation of international law in 2004."
This implies that the land "eaten up" was Arab property and that since a U.N. court so ruled, the security barrier actually is "a violation of international law." Both implications are wrong.
The United States, many European countries and Israel pointed out that the ICJ lacked jurisdiction. The Palestinian complaint, a matter of negotiation, was political, not legal. At most, the court's opinion was advisory, without the force of law.
As to "eaten up," Israel has stated repeatedly that the barrier is temporary, a counterterrorism measure, not a final border, pending a peaceful settlement with the Palestinian Arabs. Meanwhile, private owners have been offered financial compensation and continued access through numerous gates to property on the Israeli side.
Further, the legal status of the West Bank itself is disputed. The League of Nations Palestine Mandate, granted to Great Britain and later adopted by the United Nations, calls for "close," or densely populated, Jewish settlement on the land. Though "suspended" east of the Jordan River in the territory taken for creation of the state of Jordan, it remained applicable west of it and has not be superceded by law or treaty. U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 (1967) which, unlike the ICJ opinion, is authoritative calls for Israeli withdrawal from territories, not from all the territories. It recognizes that Jews as well as Arabs have claims in the disputed land, much of which is not private property but state lands, so classified not only by Israel but previously also by Jordan, the British and the Ottoman empire.
Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America