Israel-Firsters Attack International Court of Justice Hearing on Apartheid Wall
McArthur, Shirl, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs
The hearings by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Israel's apartheid wall predictably drew the ire of Israel's congressional supporters, resulting in a flurry of activity, including letters to President George W. Bush, secretary of State Colin Powell, and even U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan decrying the hearings and urging that the U.S. intervene on behalf of Israel. Also predictably, some of the letters showed a lack of understanding of the purpose of the hearings. The hearings were not called for by the Palestinians, nor was their purpose to rule on the legality of the wall-its illegality having already been established by the U.N. General Assembly (UNGA) in a resolution passed last October. Then, after Annan reported that Israel had not complied with the October resolution, the UNGA on Nov. 24 asked the ICJ for an advisory opinion-not on the wall's legality, but on its legal consequences.
The first of the letters that have come to the attention of this column (there may be others) was sent to Powell by Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY) on Jan. 22. In it Ackerman urged the secretary of state to take an active role in challenging the use of the ICJ "to put Israel on trial."
On Jan. 29, Reps. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Robert Matsui (D-CA), co-chairmen of "the Democratic Israel Working Group," wrote to Bush urging "a U.S. brief before the ICJ in support of Israel's right to implement defensive security measures." The letter also complained about the Bush administration's "mixed messages" by "claiming that the security fence being built is an obstacle to the peace process," and urged Bush "to be clear that Israel has the absolute right to defend itself from terrorism." The letter was signed by 36 other Democratic House members: Reps. Ackerman, Robert Andrews (NJ), Joe Baca (CA), Shelley Berkley (NV), Howard Berman (CA), Madeleine Bordallo (GU), Benjamin Cardin (MD), Dennis Cardoza (CA), Brad Carson (OK), Joseph Crowiey (NY), Artur Davis (AL), Susan Davis (CA), Peter Deutsch (FL), Eliot Engel (NY), Martin Frost (TX), Steny Hoyer (MD), Steve Israel (NY), Jim Langevin (RI), Tom Lantos (CA), Rick Larsen (WA), Nita Lowey (NY), Ken Lucas (KY), Denise Majette (GA), Carolyn Maloney (NY), Jim Marshall (GA), Carolyn McCarthy (NY), Michael McNulty (NY), Kendrick Meek (FL), Robert Menendez (NJ), Jerrold Nadler (NY), Major Owens (NY), Adam Schiff (CA), David Scott (GA), Ellen Tauscher (CA), Jim Turner (TX) and Anthony Weiner (NY).
On Feb. 19 Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ), with 21 other House members, sent a similar letter to Bush supporting "the right of Israel to protect its people by building a security fence" and echoing Israel's claim that "this is a political matter that is outside the jurisdiction of the ICJ." The letter urges Bush "to support Israel's right to defend its children from terrorist attacks by building a security fence." The letter's other signers were Reps. Berman, Chris Chocola (R-IN), Phil Crane (R-IL), Crowley, Jo Ann Davis (R-VA), Frost, Scott Garrett (R-NJ), Katherine Harris (R-FL), Steve King (R-IA), Nick Lampson (D-TX), Lowey, Charlie Norwood (R-GA), Mike Pence (R-IN), Rick Renzi (R-AZ), Jim Saxton (R-NJ), Pete Sessions (R-TX), John Shadegg (R-AZ), Mike Simpson (R-ID), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Lee Terry (R-NE) and Joe Wilson (R-SC).
In the Senate in February, Democratic New York Sens. Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer and Republican Sens. Orrin Hatch (UT) and Gordon Smith (OR) circulated for signatures a letter to Annan urging him to "reverse" his support for the ICJ hearing.
Meanwhile, on Feb. 26 Pence introduced H.Con.Res. 371, "supporting the construction by Israel of a security fence to prevent Palestinian terrorist attacks and condemning the decision by the [UNGA] to request the [ICJ] to render an opinion on the legality of the security fence." Although the resolution will likely die in the House International Relations committee (HIRC), it has garnered 92 co-sponsors in addition to Pence. They are Reps. Todd Akin (R-MO), Rodney Alexander (D-LA), Andrews, Richard Baker (R-LA), Gresham Barrett (R-SC), Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD, Bob Beauprez (R-CO), Berkley, Berman, Marsha Blackburn (R-SC), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Jeb Bradley (R-NH), Henry Brown (R-SC), Ginny Brown-Waite (R-FL), Max Burns (R-GA), Richard Burr (R-NC), Eric Cantor (R-VA), Cardoza, Steve Chabot (R-OH), Ben Chandler (D-KY), Chocola, Tom Cole (R-OK), Crane, Ander Crenshaw (R-FL), Crowley, John Culberson (R-TX), Artur Davis, Jo Ann Davis, Jim DeMint (R-SC), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), John Doolittle (R-CA), Rahm Emanuel (D-IL), Engel, Tom Feeney (R-FL), Mike Ferguson (R-NJ), Randy Forbes (R-VA), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Trent Franks (R-AZ), Frost, Garrett, Phil Gingrey (R-GA), Virgil Goode (R-VA), Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), Harris, Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Hayworth, Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), Wally Herger (R-CA), Israel, Ernest Istook (R-OK), Sam Johnson (R-TX), Walter Jones (R-NC), Sue Kelly (R-NY), Mark Kennedy (R-MN), Steve King (R-IA), Lantos, John Linder (R-GA), McNulty, Jeff Miller (R-FL), Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO), Sue Myrick (R-NC), Nadler, Randy Neugebauer (R-TX), Anne Northup (R-KY), Norwood, Devin Nunes (R-CA), Butch Otter (R-ID), Dennis Rehberg (R-MT), Jim Ryun (R-KS), Max Sandlin (D-TX), Saxton, Schiff, Ed Schrock (R-VA), James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Sessions, Shadegg, Brad Sherman (D-CA), John Shimkus (R-IL), Rob Simmons (R-CT), Simpson, Chris Smith, Nick Smith (R-MI), Mark Souder (R-IN), Cliff Stearns (R-FL), Tom Tancredo (R-CO), Todd Tiahrt (R-KS), David Vitter (R-LA), Dave Weldon (R-FL), Jerry Weller (R-IL), Robert Wexler (D-FL), Joe Wilson, and Albert Wynn (D-MD).
Palestinian-Israeli Conflict Gets Some Positive Congressional Attention
Although blind, knee-jerk support for Israeli actions remains strong in Congress, as shown by the above paragraphs, a few more thoughtful voices continue to be raised, and perhaps are gaining increased attention. During Powell's annual appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) to defend the foreign affairs portion of the president's budget on Feb. 12, Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) criticized the administration's lack of active involvement in the ArabIsraeli conflict. He pointed out that the administration's own study of attitudes toward the U.S. in the Middle East concluded that "hostility towards America have reached shocking levels," and the Arab-Israeli conflict is a major reason for this. Yet, the president's state of the union address contained no mention of the conflict, and nor did Powell's written presentation to the committee.
Chafee said he did not see any visible display that the administration was making any effort to make progress in resolving the conflict, and he asked Powell for a straight answer to "what are we doing on this conflict?" Powell responded with a long, but weak, description that boiled down to much talk and no action, with such phrases as "in touch with both of the parties," "following closely," and "we have been pressing." Powell also said, "We fully understand that this conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis is the source of a great deal of the anti-American feelings that exist in that part of the world," but he went on to lay the blame on the Palestinian leadership for not stopping terrorism, and said that until this happens then it would be difficult to get progress.
Chafee concluded with, "From the other side they would say, how about the root, not the existence of the barrier, but the root of the barrier, the holding of prisoners without charges, and of course the existence of the settlements. Those are the big issues that they would say we're not addressing." Powell responded by agreeing that "they are the big issues." He claimed that "we know how to talk about and deal with these problems with the Israeli side," but fell back on "we cannot allow these problems to serve as an excuse for suicide attacks."
On Feb. 24, the SFRC held a two-part hearing specifically on the road map. In their opening statements chairman Richard Lugar (R-IN) and ranking minority member Joe Biden (D-DE) both pressed for more active U.S. involvement-although, as might be expected, Lugar was more circumspect in criticizing the White House. He also echoed the administration's line that "new freedoms, economic growth, and political change in Iraq and Afghanistan" will change "the political calculations of leaders and populations in the Middle East."
Biden bluntly noted that "benign neglect, punctuated by episodic engagement, imperils America's strategic interest in the region, in my view." And, he added, "I'm not at all certain the White House understands" that "the American role is central." He also said, in referring to "the absence of responsibility on the part of the present Palestinian leadership," that "I think our country should accept its share of blame for not having lent more support to Prime Minister Abu Mazen...and I believe Israel could and should have done more as well."
On the legislative front, the resolutions applauding the Geneva plan and other private peace initiatives continue to make slow progress. In the House, H.Res. 479, introduced by Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA), has gained three new co-sponsors, all California Democrats, in addition to those previously named, for a total of 46. They are Reps. Bob Filner, Juanita Millender-McDonald, and Pete Stark. The Senate version, S.Res. 276, still has only seven co-sponsors, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who introduced it.
Criticism of Iran's Nuclear Program Approaches Critical Mass
In spite of the fact that Iran has promised full transparency on its nuclear program and has granted free access to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors, Iran's nuclear program has become an irresistible target for many members of Congress. Co-sponsorship of the two resolutions, described in previous issues of this magazine, expressing concern over Iran's "failure" to live up to its safeguards agreement with the IAEA, and its "activities that appear to be designed to develop nuclear weapons," has snowballed, approaching half the members of both houses. The House version, H.Con.Res. 332, introduced by Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA), has gained 125 new co-sponsors beyond those previously named in this column and now has 150, including Weldon. The Senate version, S.Con.Res. 81, introduced by Feinstein, has gained 26 co-sponsors and now has 44, including Feinstein. The new House and Senate co-sponsors are listed in the box at the bottom of this page.
Sponsors of Syria Accountability Act Urge Its Implementation
In the weeks following Bush's Dec. 12 signing of the Syria Accountability Act, the act's congressional sponsors continually pressed for implementation. During Powell's Feb. 11 and 12 budget presentations to the HIRC and the SFRC, the lead sponsors of the bill, Engel in the House and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) in the Senate, asked him when the administration is going to implement the act. To each Powell replied that the administration was looking at which of the options presented in the bill it wants to apply. Engel pressed for a timetable, asking if it could be within "a couple of weeks." Powell said he didn't think it would be any longer than that.
On Feb. 18 Boxer and Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) wrote to Powell reminding him of his words and saying, "at the request of the administration, our bill was modified prior to passage in order to give the president maximum flexibility in waiving sanctions for reasons of U.S. national security. While we supported this change, we hope the waiver authority is used judiciously and sparingly."
Again on March 10, the matter was raised with Assistant Secretary of State William Burns, who was testifying before the HIRC on U.S.-Libya relations. Burns replied that "a very firm implementation" would be announced "very shortly."
Senators circulated a letter to Kofi Annan urging him to "reverse" his support for the ICJ hearing.
Resolutions Criticizing Iran's Nuclear Program Gain House, Senate Co-Sponsors
THE 125 NEW CO-SPONSORS in the House of H.Con.Res. 332 are Reps. Todd Akin (R-MO), Rodney Alexander (D-LA), Tom Alien (D-ME), Joe Baca (D-CA), Spencer Bachus (R-AL), Richard Baker (R-LA), Charles Bass (R-NH), Bob Beauprez (R-CO), Chris Bell (D-TX), Shelley Berkley (D-NV), Rob Bishop (R-UT), Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), Henry Bonilla (R-TX), Jo Bonner (R-AL), Max Burns (R-GA), Richard Burr (R-NC), Dan Burton (R-IN), Eric Cantor (R-VA), Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), Brad Carson (D-OK), Michael Castle (R-DE), Steve Chabot (R-OH), Ben Chandler (D-KY), Chris Chocola (R-IN), Wm. Lacy Clay (D-MO), Jim Cooper (D-TN), Jerry Costello (D-IL), Chris Cox (R-CA), Phil Crane (R-IL), Joe Crowley (D-NY), Artur Davis (D-AL), Jo Ann Davis (R-VA), Lincoln Davis (D-TN), Diana DeGette (D-CO), Chet Edwards (D-TX), Rahm Emanuel (D-IL), Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Lane Evans (D-IL), Mike Ferguson (R-NJ), Harold Ford (D-TN), Vito Fossella (R-NY), Trent Franks (R-AZ), Scott Garrett (R-Nj), Jim Gerlach (R-PA), Gene Green (D-TX), Mark Green (R-WI), James Greenwood (R-PA), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Joel Hefley (R-CO), Wally Herger (R-CA), Baron Hill (D-IN), Steve Israel (D-NY), Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL), Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Chris John (D-LA), Sue Kelly (R-NY), Mark Kennedy (R-MN), Dale Kildee (D-MI), Jack Kingston (R-GA), John Kline (R-MN), Joe Knollenberg (R-MN), Nick Lampson (D-TX), James Langevin (D-RI), Rick Larsen (D-WA), James Leach (R-IA), Sander Levin (D-MI), Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Denise Majette (D-GA), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Jim Matheson (D-UT), Robert Matsui (D-CA), Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI), Jim McCrery (R-LA), John McHugh (R-NY), Scott Mclnnis (R-CO), Michael McNulty (R-NY), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Candice Miller (R-MI), George Miller (D-CA), Jeff Miller (R-FL), Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), George Nethercutt (R-WA), Anne Northup (R-KY), Charlie Norwood (R-GA), Jim Nussle (R-IA), Major Owens (D-NY), Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), Donald Payne (D-NJ), Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Mike Pence (R-IN), Todd Platts (R-PA), Richard Pombo (R-CA), Adam Putnam (R-FL), Jim Ramstad (R-MN), Dennis Rehberg (R-MT), Thomas Reynolds (R-NY), Ciro Rodriguez (D-TX), Mike Rogers (R-AL), lleana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Steve Rothman (D-NJ), Jim Saxton (R-NJ), Janice Schakowsky (D-IL), Edward Schrock (R-VA), David Scott (D-GA), Pete Sessions (R-TX), John Shadegg (R-AZ), Christopher Shays (R-CT), Don Sherwood (R-PA), John Shimkus (R-IL), Cliff Stearns (R-FL), John Sullivan (R-OK), John Sweeney (R-NY), Patrick Tiberi (R-OH), Jim Turner (D-TX), Fred Upton (R-MI), David Vitter (R-LA), Henry Waxman (D-CA), Jerry Weller (R-IL), David Wu (D-OR), and Albert Wynn (D-MD).
In the Senate, the 26 new co-sponsors of S.Con.Res. 81 are Sens. Christopher Bond (R-MO), John Breaux (D-LA), Jim Bunning (R-KY), Tom Carper (D-DE), Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Susan Collins (R-ME), John Cornyn (R-TX), Christopher Dodd (D-CT), Elizabeth Dole (R-NC), Bryon Dorgan (D-ND), RUSS Feingold (D-WI), Charles Grassley (R-IA), Judd Gregg (R-NH), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Carl Levin (D-MI), Trent Lott (R-MS), Patty Murray (D-WA), Don Nickles (R-OK), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Richard Shelby (R-AL), Gordon Smith (R-OR), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jim Talent (R-MO), and Ron Wyden (D-OR). -S.M.
Shirl McArthur, a retired foreign service officer, is a consultant in the Washington, DC area.…
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Publication information: Article title: Israel-Firsters Attack International Court of Justice Hearing on Apartheid Wall. Contributors: McArthur, Shirl - Author. Magazine title: Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. Volume: 23. Issue: 4 Publication date: May 2004. Page number: 24+. © Not available. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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