Global Policy Forum

Annan Takes First Steps on Barrier Claims


By Edith M. Lederer

Associated Press
January 11, 2005

Secretary-General Kofi Annan took the first step Tuesday to create a register for damage claims stemming from Israel's construction of a barrier to separate the Jewish state from Palestinian areas in the West Bank. A U.N. General Assembly resolution in July demanding Israel demolish the structure also asked Annan to establish a register of damage for possible future claims and legal actions. Even though Israel has ignored the assembly's ruling and gone ahead with construction, Annan sent a letter to the General Assembly president on Tuesday setting out a framework for the register.

U.N. associate spokesman Stephane Dujarric, who announced that the letter had been sent, did not disclose its contents. But the United Nations, in a background note, said the registry's establishment and operation would require Israeli cooperation, which "we look forward to."

An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Israel takes its lead not from the United Nations but from rulings of its own Supreme Court, which has ordered route changes to some sections of the barrier but has upheld its overall legality. The register, as envisioned by Annan, would be based in Palestinian occupied territory "so that it will be close to the people who will be submitting their damage claims for inclusion in the register," the note said.

Annan proposed the registry office be financed by contributions from all 191 U.N. member states. The barrier - a complex of walls, fences, trenches, barbed wire and electronic devices - is expected to run about 425 miles and is about one-third complete. Israel began building it to stop Palestinian suicide bombers who were infiltrating unhindered from the West Bank. Palestinians say the barrier is an attempt to grab their land and has made travel exceedingly difficult.

The barrier partly follows the "Green Line" that divided Israel from the West Bank from 1949 until 1967, when Israel captured the territory. However, in other areas, the barrier dips deeper into the West Bank to encompass Jewish settlements.




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