From Jerusalem Post OnLine

Israel dismisses "biased" UN report on security fence

Melissa Radler Oct. 1, 2003

A United Nations report that calls Israel's security fence "an unlawful act of annexation" is being dismissed by Israel as "biased and one-sided."

The report, released on Tuesday in Geneva, was written after a week-long visit to the West Bank in June by the UN's 'Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Palestinian Territories of the Commission on Human Rights,' South African law professor John Dugard.

Dugard wrote in the report that Israeli officials refused to meet with him during his visit; yesterday, Israel's ambassador to the UN, Dan Gillerman, criticized the report for "clearly ignor[ing] the fundamental issue, which is the terrorism perpetrated by Palestinians against Israel."

"That brutal, vicious and inhumane terrorism is the reason for all the steps that Israel has had to take in the last three years, and it seems that the UN is choosing to ignore the reality, and continuing to publish these one-sided reports," said Gillerman.

Dugard's report is equally critical of Israel's security fence and its overall response to terrorism, and while he wrote that Israel has "legitimate" security concerns, he described the response "disproportionate." He summed up his response to terror attacks in the 15-page report by noting, without elaboration, a "necessary disclaimer of sympathy for terrorism."

"There is a humanitarian crisis in the West Bank and Gaza. It is not the result of a natural disaster. Instead, it is a crisis imposed by a powerful state on its neighbor," he wrote.

The security fence, he said, should be condemned "as an unlawful act of annexation Annexation of this kind goes by another name in international law conquest." The fence is being built "to create facts on the ground amounting to de facto annexation."

While information on terrorist attacks on Israel and the numbers of terrorist attacks averted as a result of Israel's action were not included, statistics on the effects of the fence, military closures and checkpoints on Palestinian poverty levels, house demolitions, and the numbers of Palestinian in administrative detention are noted.

Checkpoints, which Israel says it set up to halt terror attacks, Dugard wrote, "are not so much a security measure for ensuring that would-be suicide bombers do not enter Israel, but rather the institutionalization of the humiliation of the Palestinian people."

In a series of what several observers said appear to be blatantly false accusations, Dugard wrote that Israelis don't witness scenes of brutality at checkpoints due to "laws that restrict Israelis from seeing what is happening." He also accused Israel of carrying out targeted assassinations, which Israel argues is necessary to stop a 'ticking bomb' and in the absence of Palestinian efforts to halt terror, because it "lacks evidence to place such persons on trial and therefore prefers to dispose of them arbitrarily." Evidence to back up his claims was not provided in either case.

Dugard's "apparent eagerness to ascribe Israel's motivations to conquest and annexation, while dismissing Israel's position that such a barrier will protect its population, serves to confirm questions raised about [his] objectivity and professionalism," said the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham Foxman, who released a statement on Tuesady calling the report "fundamentally political and biased in its suppositions, omissions and conclusions."

Last year, Dugard's released a report on the humanitarian situation in the West Bank and Gaza that blamed Palestinian suicide attacks on Israel's response to terrorism. At the time, the Foreign Ministry's legal advisor Alan Baker called on the UN Human Rights Commission to review Dugard's appointment.