INTERNATIONAL

Halt wall construction, Israel told

Ottawa Oct. 22. The 191-member United Nations General Assembly has voted overwhelmingly on a resolution demanding that Israel halt the construction of a wall or a barrier in the West Bank that cuts deep into Palestinian territory.

The vote was 144 in favour and 4 against with 12 abstentions. The U.S., Israel, the Marshall Islands and Micronesia voted against the resolution.

The resolution was finally put to vote after lengthy negotiations between the Europeans and Arab Governments over the language. In the end, all 15 members of the European Union supported the compromise draft that demanded the Jewish State to "stop and reverse" the construction in the occupied Palestinian territory.

The resolution also characterised the wall as being "in contradiction to relevant provisions of international law".

General Assembly resolutions are not the same as those that are passed by the Security Council. They have no legal and enforcement teeth but are symbolically important in that they reflect the sentiments of the international community.

Both in the Security Council and the General Assembly, the U.S. has refused to back resolutions condemning Israel on the grounds that they are biased and do not take into account the actions of outfits such as the Hamas and the Islamic Jihad.

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