Friends Unwavering in Israel's Support, Foes Praise ICJ's Verdict

The international reactions to the fence ruling of the International Court of Justice at the Hague were divided, as expected, among supporters and critics of Israel.

The international reactions to the fence ruling of the International Court of Justice at the Hague were divided, as expected, among supporters and critics of Israel.

New York's two senators, Democrats Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer, joined Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Gillerman, in front of UN headquarters on Friday to denounce the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling on the West Bank separation fence.

"It makes no sense for the United Nations to vehemently oppose a fence which is a non-violent response to terrorism rather than opposing terrorism itself," Clinton said to a crowd of about 100 people.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said Israel has proved that since the separation fence was built it has managed to reduce infiltration by terrorists. The UN's turning to the ICJ was inappropriate, Powell said, adding that the court's ruling on the legality of the fence was not binding.

Powell stressed that Washington was not satisfied with the barrier's route, but that Israel was sensitive to the U.S. position and added it must not use the fence to predetermine permanent borders.

The White House on Friday brushed aside the ICJ ruling, saying it didn't think it was the right forum for addressing the issue. "We do not believe that that's the appropriate forum to resolve what is a political issue. This is an issue that should be resolved through the process that has been put in place, specifically the road map," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said.

"We certainly recognize the need for Israel to defend itself and protect the people of Israel. It's also important that they allow the Palestinian people to move freely within that region," McClellan added.

U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher after the World Court announced its decision said, "we don't think there's a need for [UN] General Assembly action at this point."

"We think the efforts of the parties ought to be placed on seizing the opportunity that can be created for progress on the road map," he added.

The European Commission said that the court appeared to have confirmed the European Union's view that the fence is illegal and urged the Israelis to remove it from occupied territories.

Javier Solana, the foreign and security chief of the European Union, said: "Israel has a legitimate right to self defense against terrorist attacks. At the same time, we have stressed that the construction of the wall is no reason for confiscating Palestinian land, humanitarian suffering and economic losses, and it may also endanger future negotiations between the two sides and raise obstacles in achieving a just political solution to the conflict."

"The European Union continues to call on Israel to remove the barrier from inside the occupied Palestinian territories, including in and around East Jerusalem," European Commission spokesman Jean Christophe Filori said.

The French Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying the International Court's ruling was non-binding. "France will study the court-issued document and will consult its European partners on the issue," the statement read.

Democratic presidential nominee Senator John Kerry said he was disappointed with the court's decision. Kerry said Israel's separation fence was a legitimate measure in view of its security needs and its wish to defend itself against terrorist attacks.

The National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, Abe Foxman, said, "We thought for a moment the court would rise above prejudice, but as it turns out, it didn't." The ruling was meant to be a critical moment not only for Israel but also for the court's legitimacy, Foxman added.

Jordan, a key litigant before the ICJ, hailed the ruling, saying it carried "large legal, ethical and political weight." Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher said: "The ICJ's ruling, that was adopted with a large majority of 14 judges out of 15, represents a large legal, ethical and political weight which Israel cannot ignore.

"The decision indicates that the tribunal has accepted all Jordanian arguments and rejected all pretexts cited by Israel, which alleged the construction of the wall was a strategic requirement necessitated by security considerations," he added.

Muasher said that his government was "appraising the implications of the decision with a view to taking all necessary steps to urge Israel to implement the ruling."

Malaysia's foreign minister Sayed Hamid Albar yesterday said Israel should follow the ruling of the International Court of Justice and tear down its West Bank security fence.

"Malaysia calls upon the United Nations to urgently consider further action required to bring to an end the illegal situation," he said. "The international community ... expects Israel, as the occupying power, to respect the decision of the court," he added.