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UN Assembly to meet Friday in emergency session on ICJ ruling

13 July 2004 The United Nations General Assembly will convene on Friday an emergency special session on the question of Palestine to examine the advisory opinion issued last week by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which found Israel's construction of a separation barrier to be illegal.

The resumption of the tenth emergency special session comes at the request of a majority of UN Member States, the Arab Group and the Non-Aligned Movement, according to Michele Montas, spokesperson for the Assembly's President.

Last Friday the ICJ - the UN's principal judicial organ - issued a 14-to-1 majority opinion stating that Israel's building of a barrier in the occupied Palestinian territory is illegal, and that construction must stop immediately and Israel should make reparations for any damage caused.

The World Court's non-binding ruling also said the Assembly and Security Council should consider what steps to take to bring to an end the illegal situation created by the barrier.

The ICJ's action stemmed from an Assembly resolution passed last December during a resumption of the emergency special session asking the Court to urgently render an opinion on the legal consequences of the barrier's construction.

That meeting was the fourth resumption of the emergency special session during the Assembly's current term. In October the 191-member body overwhelmingly adopted a measure by a vote of 144 to 4 demanding that Israel stop and reverse construction of the barrier.

The emergency special session dates back to 1997 when Israel began construction of a new settlement south of East Jerusalem and after the Security Council met twice on that issue but failed to adopt resolutions. Using a formula known as "Uniting for Peace," which allows the Assembly to step in on security issues when the Council fails to act, the special emergency session was convened in April, July and November of that year, and also in 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001.

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