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"As is" reference - not a United Nations document

Source: PLO/Palestine
3 February 2004

3 February 2004

Israel's longstanding, negative campaign against the United Nations continues apace. In recent days this has been apparent in criticism of the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, and in comments and attempts made to undermine the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the principal judicial organ of the UN, in the course of its proceedings in response to the General Assembly's request for the Court to urgently render an advisory opinion on the legal consequences of the Wall that is being built by Israel, the occupying Power, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem.

In comments made on Friday, 30 January 2004, the Israeli representative to the UN, Dan Gillerman, claimed that the UN Secretary-General showed bias in his response to a suicide bombing in Jerusalem on 29 January, calling his remarks "not sufficient". Mr. Gillerman's comments are baseless as well as ironic, as the Palestinian side has always believed the contrary to be true. Statements made by the Secretary-General on violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have always strongly condemned and rejected the suicide bombings, while often not expressing sufficient condemnation of Israeli military attacks against Palestinian civilians, which have resulted in large numbers of casualties. Some of these attacks have indeed constituted war crimes. The Palestinian leadership has consistently condemned and stood firm against the suicide bombings and has never issued a complaint to the Secretary-General about his remarks in condemnation of such acts, Yet, the Palestinian side has actually conveyed to the Secretariat on prior occasions its perception of unequal treatment by the Secretary-General in expressing similar outrage to Israeli military assaults against the Palestinian civilian population in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.

This latest criticism of the Secretary-General by an Israeli official is regrettably not surprising. It comes as part of Israel's traditionally negative campaign against the UN and its typical tactics of intimidation with regard to actions by this world body. Moreover, it is evident that such critical remarks are part and parcel of the Israeli effort to pressure and discredit the UN in the lead up to the oral hearings to be held by the ICJ. In this regard, Mr. Gillerman has also commented specifically, claiming that papers filed Friday with the 1CJ by the Secretary-General's office had shown a bias "that borders on the absurd". Either Mr, Gillerman was once again misleading the public, pretending to know the content of the statement submitted by the UN, or he has illegitimately obtained and disseminated that knowledge. Accordingly, it seems necessary that this issue be examined by the Secretariat to reveal if there has been a leak of such confidential information.

Also with regard to the ICJ proceedings, Israeli official have been publicly discussing the content of other statements submitted to the Court in violation of the Rules of Court. In addition to distorting the information and making misleading remarks., they appear to have falsely characterized some of the statements submitted, abusing the fact that States, out of respect for the Rules of Court, are not disclosing to the media the content of their statements. Clearly, Israel's typical maneuveringto distort, misinform, mislead and even lie to its advantage has now taken on a new illegal dimension, which must be vehemently rejected by the international community.

In light of the comments that have been made and in response to them, the Palestinian side feels obliged to affirm its belief that a majority of the written statements submitted to the Court are expected to be positive. And, while we are disappointed with public comments related to a specific number of statements presented, we will not publicly discuss such issues, out of deference to the Court and its Rules. Palestine will do so in the appropriate forum - before the Court - when statements and arguments become public. At this time, what is most important to emphasize regarding the advisory proceedings, is that it is the General Assembly that requested the ICJ to render an advisory opinion, and we are fully confident that the Court will undertake these proceedings in the appropriate manner and will help the Assembly by answering the legal question put before it.


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