San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Country Supports Vote Against Israeli Wall

COSTA Rica this week voted in favorof a U.N. resolution that appealed to Israelto abide by an international court ruling totear down part of its controversial WestBank security wall.The resolution passed 150-6 with 10abstentions. A handful of tiny countriesjoined Israel and the United States in votingagainst it.Israel has already said it will ignorethe July 9 ruling against the wall by theInternational Court of Justice at TheHague. It plans to continue constructionof the 700-kilometer (425-mile) barrier,only a quarter of which has been built sofar. Its height varies, the highest partsmeasure eight meters (just over 26 feet).THE justice court said Israel mustdismantle the parts of the controversialbarrier built on Palestinian territory andpay the Palestinians reparations for damages.The ruling was reiterated this weekby the majority of the 191-member U.N.General Assembly, whose decisions arenon-binding, but reflect world opinion.“Costa Rica has accepted the obligatoryjurisdiction of the international courtwithout reservation and accepts, unconditionally,all of its decisions,” the ForeignMinistry said in a statement after the voteTuesday.Days before the vote, Palestine hadturned its attention to Costa Rica in searchof support for a peaceful solution to itsconflict with Israel and the felling of thewall between the nations.IN a whirlwind visit here and to ahandful of other Latin American countrieslast week, Palestine’s Vice-Minister ofForeign Affairs, Husein Abdel Khaliq, metwith his Costa Rican counterpart and sentPresident Abel Pacheco a formal letterrequesting his assistance.“Basically (the Palestinians) are askingif Costa Rica will support a peaceful solutionto the problem that is so complicated,”said Marco Vargas, Costa Rica’s Vice-Minister of the Foreign Ministry. “He(Khaliq) said the (Palestinian National)Authority totally condemns the suicideattacks against Israel, but it’s difficult tocontrol them.”The letter Khaliq bore for PresidentPacheco did not mention the attacks,Vargas said, rather it dealt with the securitywall.“WHAT he said is that the wall istremendously harmful to them. Peoplecannot go to work or school easily. Somehouses are on one side, others on another,and the gates are only open during certainhours,” Vargas said. “I mentioned that thewall is there to protect Israel, but he saidthe Authority condemns the attacks andwants a peaceful solution.”Israel says the wall has cut attacks by90%. The Palestinians say the fact that theroute cuts through the West Bank amountsto a land grab.Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharonhas already said he will ignore the rulingand that construction will continue on thebarrier.THE Palestinians have said that ifIsrael does not comply, they will push fora legally binding resolution from the U.N.Security Council, something all but certainto be vetoed by Israel’s main ally, theUnited States.In a pre-vote speech to the GeneralAssembly this week, U.S. AmbassadorJohn Danforth said the opinion of theInternational Court of Justice (ICJ) onIsraeli’s security fence “points away froma political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.“The judicial process is not the politicalprocess, and the International Court ofJustice was not the appropriate forum toresolve this conflict. The nature of a politicalsolution is balance. The claims of eachside must be accommodated or there canbe no agreement,” he said.Vargas said Costa Rica did not experienceany kind of pressure from the UnitedStates to vote a certain way.

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