fence off world's agenda – for now
Arafat's death, a more optimistic air in the region, and Europe's
reluctance right now to support anti-Israeli initiatives are responsible
for knocking the security fence – at least temporarily –
off the UN's agenda.
senior European diplomatic official in Israel said the EU has made
clear to the Palestinians they would not support a Palestinian resolution
on the security fence if it were brought to the General Assembly
or the Security Council now.
July the EU "disappointed" Israel by supporting a General
Assembly resolution that called on Israel to comply with the International
Court of Justice ruling to dismantle the fence, and pay reparations
to Palestinians who may have incurred damages as a result of its
construction. That resolution passed by a vote of 150-6, with 10
the time Israel feared the Palestinians would try to bring another
resolution slamming Israel for noncompliance to the General Assembly
in the fall, and then possibly to the Security Council with a recommendation
the meantime, however, the issue has fallen off the UN's radar screen.
position," the European diplomat said, "is that a solution
for this can be found through political negotiations, and that putting
the issue to the UN now would only exacerbate matters between Israel
and the Palestinians."
official said the Israeli High Court of Justice's ruling in the
summer that the government must make changes in the barrier that
takes into account Palestinian humanitarian needs, and the government's
compliance with that ruling, have made the fence less of an issue
for the Europeans.
to a senior Israeli official, the Foreign Ministry believes that
in addition to the Europeans, two other factors have also motivated
the Palestinians to push the issue to the back burner.
of all, the official said, the Palestinians – because of Arafat's
illness and then his death – have focused their attention
Palestinian representative to the UN, Nasser al-Kidwa, who was shepherding
the issue through the world's body, is Arafat's nephew, and has
been preoccupied dealing with his uncle's sickness, death, funeral
and then the controversy determining the cause of death. In addition,
he has also been dealing with the death of another uncle, Fathi
the official said, developments on the ground – and the Palestinian
request for good-faith measures in the run-up to the Palestinian
elections on January 9 – militates against a Palestinian full-court-press
on the matter.
would look strange that at the same time they are asking us to take
steps to facilitate the [Palestinian] election, and at a time when
there is the beginning of some kind of dialogue, that in parallel
they would wage a campaign against us in the UN," he said.
"The two don't go together."
finally, he added, the Europeans and other countries have indicated
to the Palestinians that this is not the right time to raise the
official warned, however, that this doesn't mean the fence is off
the UN agenda, or the agenda of the international community.
Palestinians can push a button and bring the issue back onto the
UN agenda tomorrow," he said. "It has not died, it's just