Israeli West Bank barrier

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The current barrier route as approved by the Sharon government cabinet in
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The current barrier route as approved by the Sharon government cabinet in February 2005

The Israeli West Bank barrier (also called the "West Bank Security Fence", or "West Bank wall" by its opponents) is a physical barrier consisting of a network of fences, walls, and trenches, which is being constructed by Israel. The barrier in part approximately follows the 1949 Jordanian-Israeli armistice line, also known as the "Green Line". In some areas the route diverges from this line, particularly in areas with a high concentration of Jews: Jerusalem, Ariel, Beitar Illit, Efrat, Gush Etzion, and Maale Adumim. These divergences may be as much as 20 kilometers. On February 18, 2005 the Israeli cabinet approved a new route for the barrier which would leave approximately seven percent of the West Bank and 10,000 Palestinians on the Israeli side.[1] (http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/spages/542573.html)

The name of the barrier is itself a political issue. The most common names used by Israel are "separation fence" (gader ha'hafrada in Hebrew) and "security fence" or "anti-terrorist fence" in English, with "seam zone" referring to the land surrounding the fence. Opponents prefer to call it a "wall." Palestinians and other opponents of the wall sometimes refer to it as an "Apartheid wall".

A similar barrier, the Israeli Gaza Strip barrier, runs parallel to the 1949 armistice line.

Contents

History and purpose

Since its inception, Israel has erected physical barriers as a means of protection against fedayeen and guerilla attacks.

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The barrier near Jenin, northern West Bank, July 2003

The idea of creating a physical barrier between the Israeli and Palestinian populations was first proposed by Yitzhak Rabin in 1992, following the murder of an Israeli teenager girl in Jerusalem. Rabin said that Israel must "take Gaza out of Tel Aviv," in order to minimize friction between the peoples. Following an outbreak of violent incidents in Gaza in October of 1994, Rabin announced his stance that "we have to decide on separation as a philosophy. There has to be a clear border. Without demarcating the lines, whoever wants to swallow 1.8 million Arabs will just bring greater support for Hamas." [1, p52] (http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/media/makovsky/makovsky020504.pdf)

To this end, the government of Yitzhak Rabin built the Israeli Gaza Strip barrier in 1994. Following an attack on Bet Lid, near the city of Netanya, Rabin made his goals more specific:

This path must lead to a separation, though not according to the borders prior to 1967. We want to reach a separation between us and them. We do not want a majority of the Jewish residents of the state of Israel, 98 % of whom live within the borders of sovereign Israel, including a united Jerusalem, to be subject to terrorism.

In early 1995, the Shahal commission was established by Yitzhak Rabin to discuss how to implement a barrier separating Israelis and Palestinians. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, prior to the Camp David 2000 Summit with Yasser Arafat, vowed to build a separation barrier, stating that it is "essential to the Palestinian nation in order to foster its national identity and independence without being dependent on the State of Israel". [1, p54] (http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/media/makovsky/makovsky020504.pdf)

Although at the beginning the Israeli government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was hesitant to construct the barrier, it finally embraced the plan. The stated purpose of the barrier is to prevent terrorists from entering Israeli cities, a problem which has plagued Israel since the start of the Second Intifada. A secondary purpose of the barrier is to prevent illegal infiltrations by Palestinians, mainly illegal immigrants and car thieves. The Israeli Government says that the high concrete portions are to protect cars and people on the Israeli side from gunfire. Many Israelis note the danger of terrorist incursions from the area, such as waves of suicide bombings in early 2002. (See Passover massacre). Palestinians and many other opponents of the barrier suspect that the security explanation is only an excuse for a geographical containment of the Palestinians in order to pave the way for an expansion of Israeli sovereignty.

For more on the considerations about the barrier route, see The 1949 Cease-fire line vs. the permanent border.

Although the Israeli government has consistently asserted that the purpose of the security barrier is to prevent attacks against Israeli targets, and that any hardship is an unfortunate side effect, necessitated by terrorist attacks, the barrier's opponents claim that the existence and the purpose of the barrier is to create hardship for Palestinians and prejudge any future borders.

Structure and timeline

The barrier at Abu Dis, east of Jerusalem, June 2004
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The barrier at Abu Dis, east of Jerusalem, June 2004

Most of the barrier consists of a wire fence with an exclusion area on each side, often including an anti-vehicle trench. Some sections, under five percent of the total length, consist of a concrete wall up to 8m (25 ft.) high, such as near Qalqiliya and Jerusalem. In all cases there are regular observation posts, automated sensing devices and other apparatus. There are gates at various places which are controlled by Israeli soldiers when they are not closed. The total length as officially authorized by the end of 2003 will be 650 km (403 miles).

As of November 2003, the barrier extends inside most of the north-western and western edges of the West Bank, sometimes close to the Green Line, and sometimes running further east. In some places there are also secondary barriers, creating a number of completely enclosed enclaves. It is not known whether a decision has been made to build a barrier on the eastern side of the main regions of Palestinian Arab population. Depending mostly on this decision, somewhere between 6 and 45 % of the West Bank will eventually be outside the barrier.

In October 2003, the region between the barrier and the Green Line was declared a special military area. Although all Israelis and all Jews regardless of nationality can enter the region freely, Palestinians can enter only with special permits even if they are residents of one of the dozen or so Arab villages in the region. Many who tried to obtain permits were refused them.

In February 2004, Israel said it would review the route of the barrier in response to U.S. and Palestinian concerns. In particular, Israeli cabinet members said modifications would be made to reduce the number of checkpoints Palestinians had to cross, and especially to reduce Palestinian hardship in areas such as Qalqilya where the barrier goes very near, and in some cases nearly encircles, populated areas.

On June 30, 2004, the Supreme Court of Israel ruled that a portion of the barrier near Jerusalem violates the rights of Palestinians, and ordered 30 km of existing and planned barrier to be rerouted. However, it did rule that the barrier is legal in essence and accepted Israel's claim that it is a security measure. On July 9, 2004, the International Court of Justice issued an advisory opinion that it is a violation of international law. At the beginning of September 2004, Israel started the southern part of the barrier.

Effectiveness

A section of the Israeli West Bank barrier between  and the nearby Israeli highway. This section of the barrier is on the  line. Since this section was built, incidents of Palestinian  from Qalqiliyia shooting at Israeli civilian cars have ceased. However, ordinary Palestinians have also lost access to their farmlands and to surrounding towns and villages.
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A section of the Israeli West Bank barrier between Qalqiliyia and the nearby Israeli highway. This section of the barrier is on the 1949 Jordanian-Israeli armistice line. Since this section was built, incidents of Palestinian snipers from Qalqiliyia shooting at Israeli civilian cars have ceased. However, ordinary Palestinians have also lost access to their farmlands and to surrounding towns and villages.

Israeli officers, including the head of the Shin Bet, quoted in the newspaper Maariv, have claimed that in the areas where the barrier was complete, the number of hostile infiltrations has decreased to almost zero. Maariv also stated that Palestinian militants, including a senior member of Islamic Jihad, had confirmed that the barrier made it much harder to conduct attacks inside Israel. Since the completion of the fence in the area of Tulkarem and Qalqiliya in June 2003, there have been no successful attacks from those areas, all attacks have been intercepted or the suicide bombers have detonated prematurely. [1, p56] (http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/media/makovsky/makovsky020504.pdf)

In the Gaza Strip, which is surrounded completely by a fence, there have been almost no infiltrations of suicide bombers into the nearby cities Ashkelon and Sderot or into the Kibbutz Nahal Oz. Palestinian suicide bomb attacks are now being directed at checkpoints in the fence that provide access to Israel and the Erez Industrial Zone. This change of focus of the attacks is presumably because other potential targets cannot be reached because of the barrier.

According to Lt. Col. Dotan Razili of the Israeli Defense Forces barriers of this type are highly effective as "there have been almost no penetrations through the Gaza fence since 1996". (paraphrase from The Lehrer News Hour of Public Broadcasting System February 9, 2004)

During the twelve month period from August 2003 to July 2004 three suicide bombers launched attacks from areas where the fence has been completed which resulted in no deaths or injuries. In contrast during the preceding twelve months, from September 2002 to August 2003, 73 attacks were successfully carried out from these areas, in which 293 Israelis were killed and 1,950 were wounded. The decrease in casualties was not due to a decrease in attempted terrorist attacks; from August 2003 to July 2004 Israeli security forces prevented dozens of planned attacks in the final stages of their implementation and uncovered 24 explosive belts and charges intended to be used for these attacks. From July 2004 to October 2004 only one suicide bombing has resulted in casualties in areas where the barrier has been built.

Effects on Palestinians

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The barrier hugging built-up Palestinian areas

The barrier generally runs along the Green Line, but dips into the West Bank to include some Jewish settlements.[2] (http://edition.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/meast/11/05/mideast/) Because of the complex path it follows, most of the barrier is actually set in the West Bank [3] (http://www.btselem.org/English/Separation_Barrier/index.asp), while only 20% is actually on the Green Line.[4] (http://domino.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/9a798adbf322aff38525617b006d88d7/659581cf3863644f85256fbf0068c624!OpenDocument) Parts of the barrier are built on land confiscated from Palestinians. [5] (http://edition.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/meast/11/05/mideast) [6] (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/3111159.stm)

Qalqilya, once known as the West Bank's "fruit basket", lies within a tight loop of walled portions of the barrier (conceived as a "sniper wall" to prevent gun attacks against Israeli motorists on the nearby Trans-Israel Highway) and is cut off on three sides from the farms that supply its markets and the region's second-largest water source. Access into and out off the 40,000-inhabitant town passes through a single Israeli checkpoint. [7] (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/3111159.stm)

In early October 2003, the OC Central Command declared the area between the separation barrier in the northern section of the West Bank (Stage 1) and the Green Line a closed military area for an indefinite period of time. New directives stated that every Palestinian over the age of twelve living in the enclaves created in the closed area have to obtain a permanent resident permit from the Civil Administration to enable them to continue to live in their homes. Other residents of the West Bank have to obtain special permits to enter the area.[8] (http://www.btselem.org/English/Separation_Barrier/index.asp)

A report issued by the UN Office for the Co-Ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (before the February 2005 modifications to the barrier route) states that the barrier will separate almost 700,000 Palestinians from their farms, jobs, and schools. Israel rejects the report which it says is inaccurate. The report claims that the barrier will carve off 14.5% of the West Bank. Israel disputes this claim and asserts that only 4% of the West Bank will be carved off, leaving 14,000 Palestinians west of the barrier. [9] (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/3260855.stm)

As of May 2004, the fence construction has already uprooted an estimated 102,320 Palestinian olive and citrus trees, demolished 75 acres (304,000 m²) of greenhouses and 23 miles (37 km) of irrigation pipes . It now rests on 15,000 dunums of confiscated land, only meters away from a number of small villages, or hamlets. To date some 218 buildings have been demolished in the village of Nazlat 'Isa, the majority of which have been stores, an important source of income and survival for a number of communities; 5 homes have also been demolished for the Wall. [10] (http://www.palestinemonitor.org/factsheet/wall_fact_sheet.htm) The United Nations has established a register to register claims of property damage caused by the seperation barrier. Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the UN, siad, "...we are establishing that register to be able in time to help those with claims." [11] (http://edition.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/03/14/annan.mideast.ap) The Israeli Government has promised that trees affected by the construction will be replanted. [12] (http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Terrorism-+Obstacle+to+Peace/Palestinian+terror+since+2000/Saving%20Lives-%20Israel-s%20anti-terrorist%20fence%20-%20Answ)

According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), 15 communities will be directly affected, numbering approximately 138,593 Palestinians, including 13,450 refugee families, or 67,250 individuals.

In June, 2004, the Washington Times[13] (http://www.washingtontimes.com/world/20040624-112922-9037r.htm) reported that the reduced need for Israeli military incursions in Jenin have prompted efforts to rebuild damaged streets and buildings and a gradual return to a semblance of normalcy.

In a letter[14] (http://www.israel-un.org/committees/duggardrprt.htm) dated October 25, 2004, from the Israeli mission to Kofi Annan, Israel's government points out that a number of restrictions east of the barrier have been lifted as a result of the barrier, including a reduction in checkpoints from 71 to 47 and roadblocks from 197 to 111.

International law and human rights

In October 2003, the United States vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution, which stated:

The construction by Israel, the occupying power, of a wall in the Occupied Territories departing from the armistice line of 1949 is illegal under relevant provisions of international law and must be ceased and reversed.

The United Kingdom, Germany, Bulgaria and Cameroon abstained from the vote. The justification given by the US for the veto was that the resolution did not condemn terrorist attacks made by Palestinian groups. The United States, however, has been widely condemned around the world for its support of the barrier.

One week later, on October 21, a similar (though non-binding) resolution (ES-10/13) was passed by the UN General Assembly 144-4 with 12 abstentions. The resolution said the barrier was "in contradiction to international law," and demanded that Israel "stop and reverse" its construction. Israel called the resolution a "farce".

The proponents of the barrier claim that its route is not set in stone, as it was challenged in court and changed several times. They note that the cease-fire line of 1949 was negotiated "without prejudice to future territorial settlements or boundary lines" (Art. VI.9) [15] (http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/mideast/arm03.htm). Security experts argue that the topography does not permit putting the barrier along the Green Line in some places, because hills or tall buildings on the Palestinian side would make the barrier ineffective against terrorism. [16] (http://www.mideastweb.org/thefence.htm). The ICJ has countered that in such cases it is only legal to compensate by delving into Israeli territory, not Palestinian.


Israeli Supreme Court decisions

In February 2004, Israel's High Court of Justice began hearing petitions from two Israeli human rights organizations, the Hamoked Centre for the Defense of the Individual and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, against the building of the barrier, referring to the distress it will cause to Palestinians in the area. The Israeli High Court of Justice has heard several petitions related to the barrier, sometimes issuing temporary injunctions or setting limits on related Israeli activities.

The most important case was a petition brought in February, 2004 by Beit Sourik Village Council, and responded to by the Government of Israel and the Commander of the IDF Forces in the West Bank, concerning a 40 km stretch of existing and planned barrier north of Jerusalem. Several other persons and organizations also made submissions. After a number of hearings, judgment (http://www.haaretz.com/hasite/images/iht_daily/D010704/hcfen0604.rtf) was made on June 30. The court noted that both the petitioners and the respondents accepted that the West Bank was held by Israel in a state of "belligerent occupation" and from this the court inferred that, in addition to Israeli administrative law, related International Law including the Hague Conventions and the Fourth Geneva Convention applied.

The first claim made by the petitioners was that construction of the barrier was itself illegal. The court ruled that construction of the barrier for security reasons would be legal even though it would be illegal for political, economic or social purposes. Since the court accepted the respondent's argument that the part of the barrier under discussion was designed for security purposes, this claim of the petitioners was lost.

The petitioners "by pointing to the route of the Fence, attempt to prove that the construction of the Fence is not motivated by security considerations, but by political ones" argued that if the Fence was primarily motivated by security considerations, it would be constructed on the Green Line. The court rejected their claims, stating: "We cannot accept this argument. The opposite is the case: it is the security perspective and not the political one which must examine a route based on its security merits alone, without regard for the location of the Green Line" (Article 30) and noted that "The commander of the area detailed his considerations for the choice of the route. He noted the necessity that the Fence pass through territory that topographically controls its surroundings, that, in order to allow surveillance of it, its route be as flat as possible, and that a 'security zone' be established which will delay infiltration into Israel. These are security considerations par excellence. ... We have no reason not to give this testimony less than full weight, and we have no reason not to believe the sincerity of the military commander." (Article 29)


The second claim made by the petitioners was that the route of the barrier in the region covered by the petition "illegally infringed on the rights of the Palestinian inhabitants". In this case the court ruled that the existing and planned route failed the principle of "proportionality" in both Israeli and international law: that harm caused to an "occupied population must be in proportion to the security benefits." On the contrary, the court listed ways in which the barrier route "injures the local inhabitants in a severe and acute way, while violating their rights under humanitarian international law". Accordingly the court ordered that a 30 km portion of the existing and planned barrier must be rerouted.

Although many in the Israeli government and security establishment reacted with anger to the court's ruling, the public reaction of the government was one of satisfaction that the court had considered the barrier legal in principle. Prime Minister Sharon promised that the court's order would be followed.

International Court of Justice ruling

In December 2003, the General Assembly passed a resolution requesting the International Court of Justice to make an advisory (non-binding) ruling on the "legal consequences arising" from the construction of the barrier. The hearings began in February 2004. The Palestinian Authority is not a member of the court but was allowed to make a submission by virtue of being a UN observer and a co-sponsor of the General Assembly resolution. In January 2004, the court also authorized the League of Arab States and the Organization of the Islamic Conference to make submissions.

Israel initially announced that it would cooperate with the court, while noting that advisory rulings of the ICJ are not binding. Israel later made a written submission to the court rejecting the authority of the court to rule on the case, but announced (on February 12, 2004) that it would not appear at the court to make oral submissions. Twenty countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and France, submitted a written opinion to the Court stating that the problem should be solved by political rather than judicial means. By the deadline for written submissions, 44 member states of the United Nations had made submissions in addition to the Palestinian Authority and the two organizations mentioned above.

On January 30, 2004, Israel announced officially it did not recognize ICJ authority to rule over the barrier issue. Israel also dispatched a 120 page document, elaborating on the security needs to build the "terror prevention fence" and purporting to demonstrate the atrocities committed by Palestinian terrorists. The document also included a judicial part with legal accounts supporting Israel's claim that the issue of the barrier is political and not in the ICJ authority.

On 23, 24 and 25 February 2004 the hearings before the International Court of Justice took place in the Peace Palace at the Hague.

The decision

On July 9, 2004, the International Court of Justice issued its opinion against the barrier, calling for it to be removed and the Arab residents to be compensated for any damage done. The Court advised that the United Nations General Assembly, which had asked for the ruling, and the Security Council should act on the issue. [17] (http://www.icj-cij.org/icjwww/idocket/imwp/imwpframe.htm) [18] (http://nzz.ch/2004/07/09/english/page-synd5077101.html)

The ICJ opinions were as follows:

  1. The construction of the wall being built by Israel, the occupying Power, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, and its associated regime, are contrary to international law;
  2. Israel is under an obligation to terminate its breaches of international law; it is under an obligation to cease forthwith the works of construction of the wall being built in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, to dismantle forthwith the structure therein situated, and to repeal or render ineffective forthwith all legislative and regulatory acts relating thereto, in accordance with paragraph 151 of this Opinion;
  3. Israel is under an obligation to make reparation for all damage caused by the construction of the wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem;
  4. All States are under an obligation not to recognize the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall and not to render aid or assistance in maintaining the situation created by such construction; all States parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949 have in addition the obligation, while respecting the United Nations Charter and international law, to ensure compliance by Israel with international humanitarian law as embodied in that Convention;
  5. The United Nations, and especially the General Assembly and the Security Council, should consider what further action is required to bring to an end the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall and the associated regime, taking due account of the present Advisory Opinion.

The opinion were passed 14-1 by the court judges, except for the 4th decision which was passed 13-2.

Thomas Buergenthal was the sole dissenting member of the 15 judges on this ICJ panel. In his declaration [19] (http://www.icj-cij.org/icjwww/idocket/imwp/imwp_advisory_opinion/imwp_advisory_opinion_declaration_buergenthal.htm) he concluded that the court should have declined to hear the case since it did not have before it "relevant facts bearing directly on issues of Israel's legitimate right of self-defense."

Reaction

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat said, "This is an excellent decision. This is a victory for the Palestinian people and for all the free peoples of the world."

Israel rejected the ICJ ruling and emphasized the barrier's self-defense aspect [20] (http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/about%20the%20ministry/mfa%20spokesman/2004/Statement%20on%20ICJ%20Advisory%20Opinion%209-July-2004), and stressed that Israel will continue to build the barrier. The USA also rejected the ruling, declaring that the issue was of political rather than legal nature. Colin Powell stated that barrier was effective against terror, and noted that the ICJ ruling was not binding, but insisted that Israel not use the barrier to predetermine permanent borders. [21] (http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/449648.html)

Numerous human rights organizations welcomed the ICJ ruling. Amnesty International said that Israel should immediately cease constructing the barrier. The governments of Israel's neighbors Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt also welcomed the ruling.

On July 20, 2004, the United Nations General Assembly passed a (non-binding) resolution demanding that Israel obey the ICJ ruling. Israel, the USA, Australia, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and Palau voted against the resolution, 10 nations abstained, and 150 nations voted in favor.

Opinions on the barrier

Israeli opinions

Israeli public opinion has been very strongly in favor of the barrier, partly in the hope that it will improve security and partly in the belief (denied by the government) that the barrier marks the eventual border of a Palestinian state. Due to the latter possibility, the settler movement opposes the barrier, although this opposition has waned since it became clear the barrier would be diverted to the east of major Israeli settlements such as Ariel. According to Haaretz, a survey conducted by of the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research, Tel Aviv University, there is an overwhelming support for the barrier among the Jewish population of Israel: 84% on March 2004 and 78% on June 2004. [22] (http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=402996&contrassID=1), [23] (https://www.haaretz.co.il/hasen/spages/447264.html)

Most Israelis believe the barrier, and intensive activity by the Israeli Defence Forces, to be the main factors in the decrease in successful suicide bomb attacks from the West Bank. The proponents of the barrier insist that reversible inconveniences to Palestinians should be balanced with the threats to lives of Israeli civilians and point out that the barrier is a non-violent way to stop terrorism and save innocent lives. [24] (http://www.israelnewsagency.com/israelsecurityfence10020.html)

Some Israelis, however, believe the barrier will have unintended consequences. Col. (res.) Shaul Arieli, who was the last commander of the Gaza regional brigade of the IDF, has said that the effectiveness of the barrier will only be short-term. "The fence provides a partial security response to the terror threats and a good response to prevention of illegal immigration and prevention of criminal acts," he explains, "but on the other hand, in its current format it creates the future terror infrastructure because this terror infrastructure is precisely those people living in enclaves who will support acts of terror as the only possible tool that they perceive as being able to restore them the land, production sources and water wells taken from them." Arieli also said that the barrier is designed to induce the Arabs of the border region to leave so that Israel can expand. (Haaretz, February 18, 2004)

Palestinian opinions

The Palestinian population and its leadership are essentially unanimous in opposing the barrier. A large number of Palestinians have been separated from their own farmlands or their places of work or study, that many more will be separated as the barriers near Jerusalem are completed. Furthermore, because of its planned route as published by the Israeli government, the barrier is perceived as a plan to confine the Palestinian population to specific areas, causing further humiliation [25] (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2004/03/09/MNGIP5H0IL1.DTL),[26] (http://www.pcc-jer.org/Articles/Article%202.htm),[27] (http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=248438). They state that Palestinian institutions in Abu Dis will be prevented from providing services to residents in the East Jerusalem suburbs, and that a 10-minute walk has become a 3 hour drive in order to reach a gate, to go (if allowed) through a crowded military checkpoint, and drive back to the destination on other side [28] (http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/engmde150162004).

More broadly, Palestinian spokespeople, supported by many in the Israeli left wing and other organizations, claim that the hardships imposed by the barrier will breed further discontent amongst the affected population and add to the security problem rather than solving it. Some Palestinian organizations and the International Solidarity Movement have organized nonviolent resistance to the construction of the wall.

The Palestinian leadership, some Palestinian supporters, left-wing Israeli groups, and (ironically) Israeli settler groups fear that the barrier will become the de facto border between an enlarged Israel and a future Palestinian state. James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, has stated that the barrier has "unilaterally helped to demarcate the route for future Israeli control over huge West Bank settlement blocs and large swathes of West Bank land."[29] (http://www.palestinechronicle.com/story.php?sid=20050422063320440) Similarly, according to B'Tselem "the overall features of the separation barrier and the considerations that led to determination of the route give the impression that Israel is relying on security arguments to unilaterally establish facts on the ground that will affect any future agreement between Israel and the Palestinians."[30] (http://www.btselem.org/English/Separation_Barrier/index.asp)

Accusation of "apartheid"

Some critics of Israeli policies consistently refer to the separation barrier, no matter where it is erected, as an "apartheid wall," because:

  • They allege that by confiscating Palestinian farmlands and leaving them on the "Israeli" side, it crowds the Palestinians into as little an area as possible while leaving as much of the land as possible to Israel.
  • In distinguishing between Israelis and Palestinians in terms of who can enter and exit the gates along the barrier, it is racist in nature.
  • Its main purpose is to separate two peoples, and they point out that its current route on confiscated Palestinian land is, according to them, hardly one that is based only on security. This is corroborated by Israeli left wing groups such as Gush Shalom and more recently by the Israeli State Prosecution itself (referring only to the part built beyond the 1949 Armistice lines).[31] (http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/spages/590557.html)
  • They allege that it serves to subjugate the Palestinians by separating them from Israel and the rest of the world, and controlling all entry and exit.

Israelis reject the comparison, arguing that:

  • The barrier serves a legitimate defensive purpose as outlined above.
  • The Israeli Supreme Court ruled that the barrier is indeed defensive and accepted the Israeli claim that the route is based on security considerations (Articles 28-30) (http://www.haaretz.com/hasite/images/iht_daily/D010704/hcfen0604.rtf).
  • Apartheid was a system established to disenfranchise citizens, based on skin color, from their own country. Palestinians are not, nor do they desire to be, citizens of Israel.
  • The main purpose of the barrier is not to separate two peoples, but to make it more difficult for terrorists to launch attacks on Israeli targets.
  • Israeli policy and public opinion do not make racial distinctions between Israelis and Palestinians.
  • If this separation barrier is an expression of apartheid, then any number of similar defensive barriers around the world must also meet that definition.

International opinions

Most international governments agree that Israel should have the right to self-defence, but oppose the construction of the barrier outside the 1949 armistice lines as a violation of Palestinian rights.

See also

References

  1. How to Build a Fence (http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/media/makovsky/makovsky020504.pdf) from the March/April 2004 issue (http://www.foreignaffairs.org/2004/2.html) of Foreign Affairs
  2. ICJ Advisory Opinion (http://www.icj-cij.org/icjwww/idocket/imwp/imwpframe.htm) as well as separate opinions of some judges
  3. Article on the ICJ ruling (http://nzz.ch/2004/07/09/english/page-synd5077101.html) from Neue Zrcher Zeitung
  4. Declaration of Judge Buergenthal (http://www.icj-cij.org/icjwww/idocket/imwp/imwp_advisory_opinion/imwp_advisory_opinion_declaration_buergenthal.htm)
  5. EU Council Presidency Statement on ICJ Advisory Opinion (http://www.eu-del.org.il/english/whatsnew.asp?id=307)
  6. Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs Statement on ICJ Advisory Opinion (http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/about%20the%20ministry/mfa%20spokesman/2004/Statement%20on%20ICJ%20Advisory%20Opinion%209-July-2004)
  7. Powell says Israel proved fence reduces terror (http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/449648.html) from Ha'Aretz
  8. Reaction of Israeli leaders and politicians (http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-2944632,00.html) on ynet.co.il (Hebrew)
  9. UN vote on fence postponed (http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/453385.html) from Ha'Aretz
  10. Israeli Supreme Court (BAGATZ) ruling (http://www.haaretz.com/hasite/images/iht_daily/D010704/hcfen0604.rtf), June 30, 2004 (on Haaretz website in Rich text format).
  11. 1.6Mb PDF of barrier route (http://www.btselem.org/Download/Separation_Barrier_Map_Eng.pdf), by Betselem

External links

Israeli government and courts

United Nations

Other international organizations

Other organizations

Other opinion articles

Miscellaneous


Note
This article has been included in the category of fences and the category of walls. There is however no implication that the West Bank barrier is a fence, nor that it is a wall - these categories merely inform the reader that the West Bank barrier contains significant elements of both.
ar:جدار إسرائيلي فاصل da:Israels mur p Vestbredden de:Israelische Sperranlagen id:Tembok Pemisah Israel he:גדר ההפרדה nl:Isralische Westoeverbarrire no:Israels mur p Vestbredden

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