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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 1, 2004

Schumer: International Court Must Not Judge Israel’s Security Fence

Schumer and bipartisan group of 78 senators call upon Secretary General Annan to reverse his support for International Court of Justice opinion on security fence

Schumer: The General Assembly’s request for ICJ opinion is a blatant attempt to manipulate the United Nations system to embarrass Israel

Senator Charles E. Schumer and a bipartisan group of 78 other senators today called upon United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan to encourage the International Court of Justice (ICJ) not to rule on the legality of Israel’s security fence. Schumer urged Annan to reverse his previous position supporting an advisory opinion from the court, warning that it was merely an attempt by certain countries to embarrass Israel and any ruling would only undermine the ICJ’s legitimacy.

"The drive to get the international court to rule on the fence is politics pure and simple,” said Schumer. “Enemies of Israel want to embarrass her at whatever cost, even if it means destroying the legitimacy of the ICJ in the process. And that is exactly what will happen here if the court intervenes and exposes itself as an instrument of the anti-Israel movement. By building the fence, Israel is taking responsible measures to defend itself again Palestinian terrorism, end of story."

On December 8, 2003, the General Assembly requested the ICJ issue an advisory opinion on Israel’s security fence to determine if it violated international law. The resolution made no mention of Palestinian terrorism against Israeli civilians and did not even garner the support of a majority of GA members. In October, the United States had vetoed a similar resolution in the Security Council because it did not address the terrorist attacks in the region.

In a letter sent today to Annan, Schumer and 78 other Senators said the ICJ should not address the legality of the security fence because the General Assembly resolution was a political attempt by certain nations to embarrass Israel, not a serious request for judicial oversight of a security problem. The Senators also warned that an ICJ opinion on this issue would politicize the court and could seriously damage its reputation and credibility.

At ICJ hearings in March, 32 countries including the United States, Canada, Australia, South Africa and Russia plus the 15 countries of the European Union submitted statements to the ICJ arguing that it does not have jurisdiction on the matter and opposing the General Assembly’s request. The ICJ has the power to decide not to respond to the General Assembly’s request and is currently deliberating the matter.

A copy of the letter Secretary General Annan and a list of Senators who signed the letter is attached.

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