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Israeli West Bank barrier
|Effects and consequences|
|Opinions on the barrier|
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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 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 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% in March 2004 and 78% in June 2004.
Most Israelis believe the barrier and intensive activity by the Israel Defense Forces to be the main factors in the decrease in successful suicide attack 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 believe that the barrier is a non-violent way to stop terrorism and save innocent lives.
However, there are some Israelis who oppose the barrier. The Israeli Peace Now movement has stated that while they would support a barrier that follows the 1949 Armistice lines, the "current route of the fence is intended to destroy all chances of a future peace settlement with the Palestinians and to annex as much land as possible from the West Bank" and that the barrier would "only increase the blood to be split on both sides and continue the sacrificing of Israeli and Palestinian lives for the settlements."
Additionally, many Israelis living in settlements, such as the Gush Etzion area, oppose the fence because it separates them from the rest of Israel. They argue that building the fence defines a border, and that they are being left out (currently the Gush Etzion area is located on Israel's side of the barrier and they strongly support the fence). According to most settlers, all of the West Bank belongs to Israel, and separating any of it with a fence is the first step in giving the land away.
Some Israeli left wing activists, such as Anarchists Against the Wall and Gush Shalom are active in protests against the barrier, especially in the West Bank towns of Bil'in and Jayyous.
Shaul Arieli, a senior member of the Council for Peace and Security and one of the architects of the Geneva Initiative wrote in Haaretz in March 2009 of the importance "to complete the fence along a route based on security considerations." Arieli found the fence to be justified due to legitimate concerns of Palestinian terrorism and violence, but was critical of the then-government's alleged negligence of completing the fence due to budgetary and political considerations. He called on the public to "demand that the new government complete the fence quickly and along a logical route."
The Palestinian population and its leadership are essentially unanimous in opposing the barrier. A significant number of Palestinians have been separated from their own farmlands or their places of work or study, and 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.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 the other side.
More broadly, Palestinian spokespersons, 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.
On April 14, 2004, American President George W. Bush said "In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion. In direct reaction to Bush's comments, the leadership of the Palestinian National Authority accused the U.S. of rewarding construction of the barrier and replied, "[t]he US assurances are being made at the expense of the Palestinian people and the Arab world without the knowledge of the legitimate Palestinian leadership. They are rewarding illegal occupation, settlement and the apartheid wall."
The United Nations
In October 2003, a United Nations resolution to declare the barrier illegal where it deviates from the green line and should be torn down was vetoed by the US in the United Nations Security Council In December 2003, resolution ES-10/14 was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in an emergency special session The resolution included a request to the International Court of Justice "to urgently render an advisory opinion" The court concluded that the barrier violated international law On 20 July 2004, the UN General Assembly accepted another resolution condemning the barrier with 150 countries voting for the resolution Only 6 countries voted against: Israel, the US, Australia, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Palau. The US and Israel rejected both the verdict and the resolution All 25 members of the European Union voted in favour of the resolution after it was amended to include calls for Israelis and Palestinians to meet their obligations under the "roadmap" peace plan.
The Red Cross
The Red Cross has declared the barrier in violation of the Geneva Convention. On February 18, 2004, The International Committee of the Red Cross stated that the Israeli barrier "causes serious humanitarian and legal problems" and goes "far beyond what is permissible for an occupying power".
Human rights organizations
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other Human rights groups have protested both the routing of the wall and the means by which the land to build the wall was obtained In a 2004 report Amnesty International wrote that "The fence/wall, in its present configuration, violates Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law."
Since the summer of 2002 the Israeli army has been destroying large areas of Palestinian agricultural land, as well as other properties, to make way for a fence/wall which it is building in the West Bank. In addition to the large areas of particularly fertile Palestinian farmland that have been destroyed, other larger areas have been cut off from the rest of the West Bank by the fence/wall. Graffiti on the Palestinian side of walled sections of the barrier has consistently been one of many forms of protest against its existence. Large areas of the walls feature messages relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, demanding an end to the barrier, or criticizing its builders and its existence ('Welcome to the Ghetto-Abu Dis'). In August 2005, the U.K. graffiti artist Banksy painted nine images on the Palestinian side of the barrier He describes the barrier as "the ultimate activity holiday destination for graffiti writers", and returned in December 2007 with new images for "Santa's ghetto" in Bethlehem The Times headlined the graffiti project "Let Us Spray". On June 21, 2006, Pink Floyd's Roger Waters wrote "Tear down the wall" on the wall, a phrase from the Pink Floyd album The Wall.�
Some speculate that because sections of the barrier are not built along the Green Line but in the West Bank, the real purpose is to acquire territory Some people describe the barrier as the de facto future border of the State of Israel. James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, has said that the barrier has "unilaterally helped to demarcate the route for future Israeli control over huge West Bank settlement blocks and large swathes of West Bank land" 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 ... Chris McGreal in The Guardian writes that the barrier is, "evidently intended to redraw Israel's borders" Some have speculated that the barrier will prejudice the outcome of border negotiations in favor of the Israelis. Yossi Klein Halevi, Israeli correspondent for The New Republic, writes that "[b]uilding over the green line, by contrast, reminds Palestinians that every time they've rejected compromise—whether in 1937, 1947, or 2000—the potential map of Palestine shrinks... The fence is a warning: If Palestinians don't stop terrorism and forfeit their dream of destroying Israel, Israel may impose its own map on them... and, because Palestine isn't being restored but invented, its borders are negotiable."
On March 9, 2006, The New York Times quoted then-acting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as stating that if his Kadima party wins the upcoming national elections, he would seek to set Israel's permanent borders by 2010, and that the boundary would run along or close to the barrier.
Machsom Watch, an Israeli women's human rights group, who were at l-Ras checkpoint, describes a typical daily life of Palestinians in West Bank:
*13.50: All people (male and female) between the ages of 16 to 30 who are residents of Tulkarem, Nablus and Jenin, and the villages surrounding these towns, are not allowed southward.
- 14.44: A car with a bridegroom arrives at the checkpoint. His wedding is in Beit Lid. However he is from Tulkarem and young and he is told he can't pass through. A relative of his who is from Taibe and who speaks fluent Hebrew, tries to talk to all the soldiers to convince them to let him pass through.
- 14.50: The bus with only women and children who are heading to Beit Lid for the wedding arrives at the checking booth. IDs are checked. Five of the young women, some with young children, are from Tulkarem and are told to leave the bus.
- 14.59: They are not allowed to pass. They get a taxi on the other side of the street to go back home. The bridegroom has still not been allowed through. Aunts, uncles and other relatives are all standing around trying to figure out what to do. The relative from Taibe continues to go from one soldier to the other to ask for help.
- 15.10: The bridegroom is told he cannot go through. He stands to the side.
- 15.37: The bridegroom is sent home.
Some opponents of the barrier claim that building and maintaining the wall is a crime of apartheid isolating Palestinian communities in the West Bank and consolidating the annexation of Palestinian land by Israeli settlements. However, this is disputed by some.