Israeli Fence

Let me just say that I agree wholeheartedly with Jonathan about the fence Israel is constructing.

I think the fence can have a positive effect in cooling down Israel-Palestinian relations and thus get them to the negotiating table.

Forward talks about the effects of the fence on Jenin.

Life is returning to normal here in the city once known as the suicide-bombing capital of the West Bank. The economy is picking up, services are being restored and local leaders describe a new optimism.

The reason, Israeli military officials say, is the nearly completed security fence separating this sector of the West Bank from Israel. A 50-mile stretch —- from the Jordan River to just north of Netanya —- is three months from completion. Already the barrier has virtually eliminated terrorist incidents, as well as car thefts and illegal infiltration, inside nearby parts of Israel. In response, the army has sharply curtailed the hated roadblocks and closures that had disrupted life for local Palestinians. Workers can now reach their jobs. Farmers can bring their crops to market, reviving Jenin’s business district.

[…]Last January 1, when the first stretch of fence was completed, Avman met with the mayor of Jenin at brigade headquarters. “On the way back home,” he promised the disbelieving mayor, “you will not see a single Israeli tank.”

The town has not been closed off for more than four months. This had major effects on both sides of the fence. In Jenin, life is closer to normal —- which, as Avman is quick to point out, creates an incentive to avoid terrorism, as people have more to lose. On the Israeli side, people seem to feel much safer. Three weeks ago, more than 30,000 Israelis turned out for a hike along the Gilboa ridge near here organized annually by local authorities. A year ago, the number of hikers was less than 6,000, and security expenses were five times higher.

There is, however, one catch.

There is another major distinction between Northern Samaria and other areas: The fence here largely follows the Green Line, Israel’s pre-1967 border. There are few Israeli settlements in this sector, and so there are few deviations eastward to appease the settlers, few Palestinians separated from their fields and orchards, and no enclaves of Palestinians forced to pass a gate every time they go to school, to work or to see a doctor. In several other regions under construction, this is not the case. The pressure around the fence in those spots is expected to be much greater, leading to more security problems and more pressure on the army.

A fence which follows the Green Line as closely as possible, thus allowing the Israeli army to withdraw, will make life much easier for Palestinians and hence enhance the prospects for peace.

By Zack

Dad, gadget guy, bookworm, political animal, global nomad, cyclist, hiker, tennis player, photographer


  1. If the fence followed the Green Line, there might be something to your argument but as long as it’s being used to grab more Palestinian land, I don’t see much if any good coming from it.

  2. A bit of history is required before I comment on the Israel’s wall.

    In the late forties, the Jews and other peoples of the region defined by the British as Palestine (it was Southern Syria under the Ottomans) chose to settle their differences through armed conflict. The Jews won the first round, and their foes where placed under Jordanian and Egyptian occupation. The 1967 War marked the second attempt by the Israels and the Arabs to settle their differences through combat; the 1973 war marked a third attempt. Both the second and third rounds went to Israel. Unfortunately, a permanent settlement was not reached by armed conflict.

    Israel and Egypt then wisely chose to settle their differences through negotiation. Carter’s Camp David Accords produced a lasting peace. Some years later, negotiation led to a formal peace with Jordan. Following the first Palestinian (the non-Jewish peoples of the region defined by the British as Palestine had developed a national identity by this point) insurrection, the Israels and Palestinians made public statements that suggested a desire to resolve their differences through negotiation – enter the Oslo Process. Clinton attempted a Carter at Camp David when Oslo stalled; he failed. Barak attempted a negotiatied solution following Clinton’s effort; he also failed. Unfortunately, Arafat’s recalcitrance led to a second Palestinian insurrection. To date, the insurrection has not earned the Palestinians peace, prosperity, life, liberty or land.

    Since 1948, armed conflict has four times over failed to resolve the political, social and religious differences in the region. A fifth struggle, which includes the recruitment of 14 year-old suicide bombers, is in the process of failing. Three attempts at negotiation were for naught. If coercion and negotiation fail, what remains? Separation. Separation remains.

    Construction of a barrier is the most discernably sane element of Israel’s policy since Barak’s third attempt at a negotiated settlement. Since Arafat rejected Barak’s peace deal, the two sides have been engaging in a futile blood feud. A barrier offers a means of dramatically reducing violence. A reduction in violence may allow more rational leaders to take power on both sides. And, rational leaders may someday come to a rational, permanent settlement.

  3. Al-Muhajabah: Demographics change. Some areas in the West Bank are predominantly Israeli, now. Certainly, many Israeli settlements in the midst of Palestinian towns and deep in the West Bank must go. But, some of the areas near the Green Line will likely need to fall on the Israeli side of the fence. Later negotiations between rational, peace-loving leaders who would not turn soldiers into assassins or children into suicide bombers can lead to a final settlement.

  4. Arrrgh: Since I don’t really disagree with you, I am going to nitpick just for criticism’s sake.

    the 1973 war marked a third attempt.

    Actually, the 1973 war did sort of achieve its original purpose for Egypt. The war wasn’t conceived as a conquest of Sinai.

    Barak attempted a negotiatied solution following Clinton’s effort; he also failed.

    It was a little more complex than that. Barak lost the election. Taba had moved the negotiations forward after Camp David but was still far from a resolution.

    Arafat’s recalcitrance led to a second Palestinian insurrection.

    Arafat’s role has obviously been pretty negative. But I am not sure how much of the new intifadah was his fault or in his control.

    Separation remains.

    I find it ironic that the option left is what Mitzna argued for 3 years ago. He lost and now Sharon will have to do almost the same thing.

    Demographics change.

    Pragmatically, I agree completely. Morally, I see huge problems with Israeli settlements since their conscious and deliberate purpose was to put new facts on the ground.

    Plus demographic change worries a lot of people in this world. I get lots of searches looking for Muslim populations in India and different European countries. Huntington (and Mike) are wrried about Mexican immigration to the US. Israelis are worried about Jews becoming a minority in their own state. How about we let things take their natural course?

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