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Supreme Court Upholds the Fence

05 July 2004

By Yisrael Ne'eman

Israel’s much debated security fence has become a meandering, convoluted demarcation line between Israelis and Palestinians, no less than a defensive line against terrorism. In the end it will run over 700 kilometers through the western sections of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank). After numerous appeals against the proposed route to be taken, Israel’s Supreme Court struck down thirty kilometers as planned by the defense ministry, while upholding another ten.

Arguments are raging as to whether the Court should have the right to intervene in “defense matters.” Certain right wing politicians are calling for legislation preventing court intervention and leaving the IDF to draw the lines it deems best for security. PM Ariel Sharon, however, is determined to adhere to the Court ruling and along with Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz has instructed the army to reroute the unacceptable thirty kilometers. Alternative planning should be finished within a few months.

In the arguments over the exact path the barrier should take, many have lost sight of the actual purpose of the fence (and in some places, the wall). Although said to be a defense against Palestinian terrorism and in particular, suicide-homicide bombers, the fence is in reality the demographic division between the sides. The Supreme Court upheld the right of the state to build a “defensive barrier” across Israel’s 1949-67 armistice line, but disallowed what opponents of the route defined as a “land grab.”

Palestinian agricultural lands have been split and/or damaged by the construction of the fence, leading to appeals by those identified with the Left and certain “human rights” groups to demand a route as close as possible to the 1967 lines. Certain Israeli and international anarchist groups are battling against the fence as a concept, since they are working for the destruction of the Jewish State. The IDF prefers the fence to be a close as possible to the Palestinian villages, leaving their farmlands on the Israeli side. Should an infiltrator cross the fence, the army would have the time and space to stop the attacker. If the barrier were to run close to Jewish developments a terrorist would be able to seize hostages within a few minutes once having crossed.

The Court had to balance between Palestinian land rights and the Israeli desire to gain maximum security. This time the Palestinians got the upper hand by appealing to the Israeli Supreme Court, but that is in micro. In macro, the fence is becoming a reality, and with it increased security. The “thirty kilometers” will be a temporary hurdle to be forgotten.

More importantly, the foundation of the future Israeli-Palestinian border is being established. Sharon’s Gaza Disengagement will one day reach the West Bank as well, and the Palestinians will find themselves on the other side of the Israeli economy, just like in Gaza. The fence is disengaging Israel from Arafat’s political and economic anarchy and dumping it on the Arab world and international community.

In the long term analysis, the significance of the fence will be as a demographic and economic blockade, no less than a defensive barrier against terrorism.