The International Court of Justice on Monday opens its hearings on the legality of the West Bank fence Israel is building.
The first three hours will be dedicated to Palestinian arguments, which initially will be presented by the head of the Palestinian delegation and the Palestinian Authority's envoy to the United Nations, Nasser Al-Kidwa.
These arguments will be followed a presentation of various facts linked to the construction of the fence by attorney Stephanie Khouri and Prof. James Crawford, the head of the international law department at the University of Cambridge. Prof. Ron Lowe of Oxford University is to present the legal arguments.
A recent report published by the Palestinian State Information Service (SIS) warned that the Israeli fence would de facto annex over 45% of the area of the West Bank.
The report, which was prepared by the Palestinian National Information Center (PNIC) of the SIS, revealed that the Israeli occupying forces have forcibly seized nearly 165 thousand dunums (124,323 dunums of private property mostly in the governorate of Qalqilia, and 40,460 dunums of government property, mostly in Jenin governorate) for the construction of the barrier, which will eventually extend 620 kilometers, dipping from 300 meters to 23 kilometers inside West Bank lands. The Israeli forces have also bulldozed 22,298 dunums for the same purpose.
The report also showed that the wall would isolate 126 Palestinian population localities, while 47 other localities with a population of 183,986 Palestinians would be trapped between the main and secondary walls.
On Monday afternoon, the court will hear arguments from representatives of South Africa, Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh.
The Palestinians have been given a permit to stage a demonstration in the morning, with 25 activists. Later in the afternoon, a second Palestinian demonstration is to take place, with participants to include Palestinian Authority Ministers Saeb Erekat and Nabil Sha'ath, Israeli lawmakers Mohammed Barakeh, Ahmed Tibi and Issam Makhoul, Palestinians affected by the fence, and support groups from Europe.
Israeli activists have a permit to stage a counter demonstration with no more than 25 people.
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )