Chapter 9: Borders & Boundaries
- “The creation of Israel changed political & border arrangements between independent states that had existed for centuries.”
- “Israel has been an expansionist state since its creation.”
- “Israel seized the Golan Heights in a war of aggression.”
- “The Golan has no strategic significance for Israel.”
- “Syria is willing to make peace if Israel withdraws from the Golan Heights.”
- “Israel illegally annexed the Golan Heights in 1981.”
- “Israel can withdraw from the West Bank with little more difficulty than was the case in Sinai.”
- “Defensible borders are unrealistic in an era of ballistic missiles and long--range bombers.”
- “Israel ‘occupies’ the West Bank.”
- “Israel’s security fence is meant to create a Palestinian ghetto.”
- “Israel is the only country that has a fence to secure its borders.”
- “The security fence should be built along the pre-1967 border.”
- “Israel’s security fence is comparable to the Berlin Wall.”
“The creation of Israel in 1948 changed political and border arrangements between independent states that had existed for centuries.”
The boundaries of Middle East countries were arbitrarily fixed by the Western powers after Turkey was defeated in World War I and the French and British mandates were set up. The areas allotted to Israel under the UN partition plan had all been under the control of the Ottomans, who had ruled Palestine from 1517 until 1917.
When Turkey was defeated in World War I, the French took over the area now known as Lebanon and Syria. The British assumed control of Palestine and Iraq. In 1926, the borders were redrawn and Lebanon was separated from Syria.
Britain installed the Emir Faisal, who had been deposed by the French in Syria, as ruler of the new kingdom of Iraq. In 1922, the British created the emirate of Transjordan, which incorporated all of Palestine east of the Jordan River. This was done so that the Emir Abdullah, whose family had been defeated in tribal warfare in the Arabian peninsula, would have a Kingdom to rule. None of the countries that border Israel became independent until the Twentieth Century. Many other Arab nations became independent after Israel. 1
“Israel has been an expansionist state since its creation.”
Israel’s boundaries were determined by the United Nations when it adopted the partition resolution in 1947. In a series of defensive wars, Israel captured additional territory. On numerous occasions, Israel has withdrawn from these areas.
As part of the 1974 disengagement agreement, Israel returned territories captured in the 1967 and 1973 wars to Syria.
Under the terms of the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, Israel withdrew from the Sinai peninsula for the third time. It had already withdrawn from large parts of the desert area it captured in its War of Independence. After capturing the entire Sinai in the 1956 Suez conflict, Israel relinquished the peninsula to Egypt a year later.
In September 1983, Israel withdrew from large areas of Lebanon to positions south of the Awali River. In 1985, it completed its withdrawal from Lebanon, except for a narrow security zone just north of the Israeli border. That too was abandoned, unilaterally, in 2000.
After signing peace agreements with the Palestinians, and a treaty with Jordan, Israel agreed to withdraw from most of the territory in the West Bank captured from Jordan in 1967. A small area was returned to Jordan, and more than 40 percent was ceded to the Palestinian Authority. The agreement with the Palestinians also involved Israel’s withdrawal in 1994 from most of the Gaza Strip, which had been captured from Egypt in 1973.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered to withdraw from 95 percent of the West Bank and 100 percent of the Gaza Strip in a final settlement. In addition, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and his successors offered to withdraw from virtually all of the Golan Heights in exchange for peace with Syria.
In August 2005, all Israeli troops and civilians were evacuated from the Gaza Strip and the territory was turned over to the control of the Palestinian Authority. In addition, four communities in Northern Samaria that covered an area larger than the entire Gaza Strip were also evacuated as part of the disengagement plan. As a result, Israel has now withdrawn from approximately 94 percent of the territory it captured in 1967.
Negotiations continue regarding the final disposition of the remaining 6 percent (about 1,600 square miles) of the disputed territories in Israel’s possession. Israel’s willingness to make territorial concessions in exchange for security proves its goal is peace, not expansion.
“Israel seized the Golan Heights in a war of aggression.”
Between 1948 and 1967, Syria controlled the Golan Heights and used it as a military stronghold from which its troops randomly sniped at Israeli civilians in the Hula Valley below, forcing children living on kibbutzim to sleep in bomb shelters. In addition, many roads in northern Israel could be crossed only after being cleared by mine-detection vehicles. In late 1966, a youth was blown to pieces by a mine while playing soccer near the Lebanon border. In some cases, attacks were carried out by Yasser Arafat’s Fatah, which Syria allowed to operate from its territory. 2
Israel repeatedly, and unsuccessfully, protested the Syrian bombardments to the UN Mixed Armistice Commission, which was charged with enforcing the cease-fire. For example, Israel went to the UN in October 1966 to demand a halt to the Fatah attacks. The response from the Syrian ambassador was defiant: “It is not our duty to stop them, but to encourage and strengthen them.” 3
Nothing was done to stop Syria’s aggression. A mild Security Council resolution expressing “regret” for such incidents was vetoed by the Soviet Union. Meanwhile, Israel was condemned by the UN when it retaliated. “As far as the Security Council was officially concerned,” historian Netanel Lorch wrote, “there was an open season for killing Israelis on their own territory.” 4
After the Six-Day War began, the Syrian air force attempted to bomb oil refineries in Haifa. While Israel was fighting in the Sinai and West Bank, Syrian artillery bombarded Israeli forces in the eastern Galilee, and armored units fired on villages in the Hula Valley below the Golan Heights.
On June 9, 1967, Israel moved against Syrian forces on the Golan. By late afternoon, June 10, Israel was in complete control of the plateau. Israel’s seizure of the strategic heights occurred only after 19 years of provocation from Syria, and after unsuccessful efforts to get the international community to act against the aggressors.
“The Golan has no strategic significance for Israel.”
Syria—deterred by an IDF presence within artillery range of Damascus—has kept the Golan quiet since 1974. But during this time, Syria has supported and provided a haven for numerous terrorist groups that attack Israel from Lebanon and other countries. These include the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Hezbollah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC). In addition, Syria still deploys hundreds of thousands of troops—as much as 75 percent of its army—on the Israeli front near the Heights.
From the western Golan, it is only about 60 miles—without major terrain obstacles—to Haifa and Acre, Israel’s industrial heartland. The Golan—rising from 400 to 1700 feet in the western section bordering on pre--1967 Israel—overlooks the Hula Valley, Israel’s richest agricultural area. In the hands of a friendly neighbor, the escarpment has little military importance. If controlled by a hostile country, however, the Golan has the potential to again become a strategic nightmare for Israel.
Before the Six-Day War, when Israeli agricultural settlements in the Galilee came under fire from the Golan, Israel’s options for countering the Syrian attacks were constrained by the geography of the Heights. “Counterbattery fire was limited by the lack of observation from the Hula Valley; air attacks were degraded by well-dug-in Syrian positions with strong overhead cover, and a ground attack against the positions . . . would require major forces with the attendant risks of heavy casualties and severe political repercussions,” U.S. Army Col. (Ret.) Irving Heymont observed. 5
When Israel eventually took these risks and stormed the Syrian positions in 1967, it suffered 115 dead—roughly the number of Americans killed during Operation Desert Storm.
Relinquishing the Golan to Syria without adequate security arrangements could jeopardize Israel’s early-warning system against surprise attack. Israel has built radar systems on Mt. Hermon, the highest point in the region. If Israel withdrew from the Golan and had to relocate these facilities to the lowlands of the Galilee, they would lose much of their strategic effectiveness.
“Syria is willing to make peace if Israel withdraws from the Golan Heights.”
Syria’s position has not wavered: Israel must completely withdraw from the entire Golan Heights before President Assad will discuss what Syria might do in return. Assad has never expressed any willingness to make peace even if Israel met his demand.
Israel has been equally adamant that it would not give up any territory without knowing what Syria was prepared to concede. Israel’s willingness to trade some or all of the Golan is dependent on Syria’s agreement to normalize relations and to sign an agreement that would bring about an end to the state of war Syria says exists between them.
The topographical concerns associated with withdrawing from the Golan Heights could be offset by demilitarization, but Israel needs to have a defensible border from which the nation can be defended with minimum losses. The deeper the demilitarization, and the better the early warning, the more flexible Israel can be regarding that border.
In addition to military security, Israelis seek the normalization of relations between the two countries. At a minimum, ties with Syria should be on a par with those Israel has with Egypt; ideally, they would be closer to the type of peace Israel enjoys with Jordan. This means going beyond a bare minimum of an exchange of ambassadors and flight links and creating an environment whereby Israelis and Syrians will feel comfortable visiting each other’s country, engaging in trade, and pursuing other forms of cooperation typical of friendly nations.
In past negotiations, Israel has expressed a willingness to make substantial concessions, and the outline of an agreement has been essentially sitting on the table waiting for Syria to agree to the exchange of peace and security for land. In the meantime, substantial opposition exists within Israel to withdrawing from the Golan Heights. The expectation of many is that public opinion will shift if and when the Syrians sign an agreement and take measures, such as ending support for Hezbollah and closing the headquarters of terrorist organizations in Damascus, that demonstrate a genuine interest in peace. And public opinion will determine whether a treaty is concluded because of a law adopted during Prime Minister Netanyahu’s term that requires any agreement to be approved in a national referendum.
Meanwhile, Syria has continued to build up its military forces, attempted to establish a nuclear weapons program, smuggled arms to Hez-bollah in Lebanon and allowed terrorist groups to retain headquarters in Damascus, all of which have increased Israel’s concerns about Assad’s intentions. Upheaval in Syria has raised the possibility of a change in regime; nevertheless, absent dramatic changes in Syria’s government and its attitude toward Israel, the Jewish State’s security will depend on its retention of military control over the Golan Heights.
“From a strictly military point of view, Israel would require the retention of some captured territory in order to provide militarily defensible borders.”
— Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, June 29, 1967
“Israel illegally annexed the Golan Heights in 1981.”
On December 14, 1981, the Knesset voted to annex the Golan Heights. The statute extended Israeli civilian law and administration to the residents of the Golan, replacing the military authority that had ruled the area since 1967. The law does not foreclose the option of negotiations on a final settlement of the status of the territory.
Following the Knesset’s approval of the law, Professor Julius Stone of Hastings College of the Law wrote: “There is no rule of international law which requires a lawful military occupant, in this situation, to wait forever before [making] control and government of the territory permanent. . . . Many international lawyers have wondered, indeed, at the patience which led Israel to wait as long as she did.” 6
“It is impossible to defend Jerusalem unless you hold the high ground. . . . An aircraft that takes off from an airport in Amman is going to be over Jerusalem in two-and-a-half minutes, so it’s utterly impossible for me to defend the whole country unless I hold that land.”
—Lieutenant General (Ret.) Thomas Kelly,
Director of Operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Gulf War 7
“Israel can withdraw from the West Bank with little more difficulty than was the case in Sinai.”
Several pages of Israel’s peace treaty with Egypt are devoted to security arrangements. For example, Article III of the treaty’s annex concerns the areas where reconnaissance flights are permitted, and Article V allows the establishment of early-warning systems in specific zones.
The security guarantees, which were required to give Israel the confidence to withdraw, were only possible because the Sinai was demilitarized. They provide Israel a large buffer zone of more than 100 miles of sparsely populated desert. Today, the Egyptian border is 60 miles from Tel Aviv and 70 from Jerusalem, the nearest major Israeli cities.
The situation in the territories is entirely different. More than two million Arabs live in the West Bank, many in crowded cities and refugee camps. Most of them are located close to Israeli cities such as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The Palestinians have rockets capable of threatening these cities as well as Ben-Gurion Airport.
It is important for Israel that the West Bank not fall into the hands of hostile neighbors. The infiltration in recent years of terrorists from the Palestinian Authority, who have committed horrific acts such as suicide bombings, illustrate the danger. The 2011 uprisings in Egypt are a reminder of the risk involved in making permanent territorial concessions to leaders whose tenure is only temporary. Israel must consider the possibility of a hostile regime coming to power in the future and account for the likelihood that the Palestinians will have even more sophisticated weapons at their disposal in the future.
Despite the risks, Israel has withdrawn from more than 40 percent of the West Bank since Oslo. In past negotiations, Israel has offered to give up 97 percent of it in return for a final settlement with the Palestinians. Israel will not, however, return to the pre-1967 borders as demanded by the Palestinians and the Arab states.
“Defensible borders are unrealistic in an era of ballistic missiles and long-range bombers.”
History shows that aerial attacks have never defeated a nation. Countries are only conquered by troops occupying land. One example of this was Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, in which the latter nation was overrun and occupied in a matter of hours. Though the multinational force bombed Iraq for close to six weeks, Kuwait was not liberated until the Allied troops marched into that country in the war’s final days. Defensible borders are those that would prevent or impede such a ground assault.
Israel’s return to its pre-1967 borders, which the Arab states want to reimpose, would sorely tempt potential aggressors to launch attacks on the Jewish State—as they did routinely before 1967. Israel would lose the extensive system of early-warning radars it has set up in the hills of Judea and Samaria. Were a hostile neighbor then to seize control of these mountains, its army could split Israel in two: From there, it is only about 15 miles—without any major geographic obstacles—to the Mediterranean.
|Flying Times to Israel
At their narrowest point, these 1967 lines are within 9 miles of the Israeli coast, 11 miles from Tel Aviv, 10 from Be’er Sheva, 21 from Haifa and one foot from Jerusalem.
To defend Jerusalem, the U.S. Joint Chiefs concluded in a 1967 report to the Secretary of Defense, Israel would need to have its border “positioned to the east of the city.” 8
Control over the Jordan River Valley is also critical to Israeli security because it “forms a natural security barrier between Israel and Jordan, and effectively acts as an anti-tank ditch,” military analyst Anthony Cordesman noted. “This defensive line sharply increases the amount of time Israel has to mobilize and its ability to ensure control over the West Bank in the event of a war.” He added that sacrificing control over the routes up to the heights above the West Bank makes it more difficult for the IDF to deploy and increases the risk of Jordanian, Syrian, or Palestinian forces deploying on the heights. 9
Even in the era of ballistic missiles, strategic depth matters. The Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, an Israeli think tank considered dovish, concluded: “Early-warning stations and the deployment of surface-to-air missile batteries can provide the time needed to sound an air-raid alert, and warn the population to take shelter from a missile attack. They might even allow enemy missiles to be intercepted in mid-flight. . . . As long as such missiles are armed with conventional warheads, they may cause painful losses and damage, but they cannot decide the outcome of a war.” 10
“Israel ‘occupies’ the West Bank.”
In politics words matter and, unfortunately, the misuse of words applying to the Arab-Israeli conflict has shaped perceptions to Israel’s disadvantage. As in the case of the term “West Bank,” the word “occupation” has been hijacked by those who wish to paint Israel in the harshest possible light. It also gives apologists a way to try to explain away terrorism as “resistance to occupation,” as if the women and children killed by suicide bombers in buses, pizzerias, and shopping malls were responsible for the plight of the Palestinians.
Given the negative connotation of an “occupier,” it is not surprising that Israel’s detractors use the word or some variation as many times as possible when interviewed by the press. The more accurate description of the territories in Judea and Samaria, however, is “disputed” territories.
Nonetheless, the European Union has fallen for the propaganda and accepted the fallacious terminology. In July 2013, the EU published guidelines severely limiting interaction with Israeli entities beyond the pre-1967 lines. The new rules enforce the union’s “long-held position that bilateral agreements with Israel do not cover the territory that came under Israel’s administration in June 1967.” This means that the EU has banned any funding of and cooperation with Israeli institutions that operate beyond the “Green Line.”11
In 2015, the EU imposed additional punitive measures against Israel by recommending that all goods originating from the disputed territories carry a label indicating they were from an “Israeli settlement.”11a Goods from other disputed territories around the world are not required to be labelled; thus, Israel is singled out for special treatment reminiscent of the Nazi boycott against Jews in Germany.
The EU action also undermines the prospect for a negotiated peace by giving the Palestinians the false hope that the international community will pressure Israel to make concessions without the Palestinians having to negotiate or compromise.
The hypocrisy of critics of Israel's administration of the West Bank is compounded by the fact that other disputed territories around the world are not referred to as being occupied by the party that controls them. This is true, for example, of the hotly contested regions of Kashmir, Cyprus, and Tibet. Yet rarely does the international community make a fuss over these territories.12
Occupation typically refers to foreign control of an area that was under the previous sovereignty of another state. In the case of the West Bank, there was no legitimate sovereign because the territory had been illegally occupied by Jordan from 1948 to 1967. Only two countries—Britain and Pakistan—recognized Jordan’s action. The Palestinians never demanded an end to Jordanian occupation and the creation of a Palestinian state.
“For a Texan, a first visit to Israel is an eye-opener. At the narrowest point, it’s only 8 miles from the Mediterranean to the old Armistice line: That’s less than from the top to the bottom of Dallas-Ft. Worth Airport. The whole of pre-1967 Israel is only about six times the size of the King Ranch near Corpus Christi.”
— President George W. Bush 13
It is also necessary to distinguish the acquisition of territory in a war of conquest as opposed to a war of self-defense. A nation that attacks another and then retains the territory it conquers is an occupier. One that gains territory in the course of defending itself is not in the same category. This is the situation with Israel, which specifically told King Hussein that if Jordan stayed out of the 1967 war, Israel would not fight against him. Hussein ignored the warning and attacked Israel. While fending off the assault and driving out the invading Jordanian troops, Israel came to control the West Bank.
By rejecting Arab demands that Israel be required to withdraw from all the territories won in 1967, UN Security Council Resolution 242 acknowledged that Israel was entitled to claim at least part of these lands for new defensible borders.
Since Oslo, the case for tagging Israel as an occupying power has been further weakened by the fact that Israel transferred virtually all civilian authority in the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority. Israel retained the power to control its own external security and that of its citizens, but 98 percent of the Palestinian population in the West Bank, and 100 percent in Gaza, came under the PA’s authority.
The extent to which Israel has been forced to maintain a military presence in the territories has been governed by the Palestinians’ unwillingness to end violence against Israel. The only way to end the dispute over the territories is for the Palestinians to negotiate a final settlement. Until now, the intransigence of the Palestinian Authority’s leadership has prevented the resumption of peace talks, which offer the only route to an agreement that will lead to a sustainable future for Israelis and Palestinians alike.
“Israel’s security fence is meant to create a Palestinian ghetto.”
Israel did not want to build a fence, and resisted doing so for more than 35 years. If anyone is to blame for the construction, it is Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the other Palestinian terrorists.
Following the 1967 war, the frontier separating Israel from the West Bank had no physical obstacles to prevent the infiltration of terrorists. In response to dozens of suicide bombings, and daily terrorist attacks against its civilians, Israel decided to construct a security fence near the ”Green Line” (the 1949 armistice line) to prevent Palestinian terrorists from crossing the border.
A large majority of Israelis support the construction of the security fence. Israelis living along the Green Line, both Jews and Arabs, favor the fence to prevent penetration by thieves and vandals as well as terrorists. In fact, the fence caused a revolution in the daily life of some Israeli Arab towns because it has brought quiet, which allowed a significant upsurge in economic activity. 13
The fence is not impregnable. It is possible that some terrorists will manage to get past the barrier; nevertheless, the obstacle makes it far more difficult for incursions and thereby minimizes the number of attacks. During the 34 months from the beginning of the violence in September 2000 until the construction of the first continuous segment of the security fence at the end of July 2003, Samaria-based terrorists carried out 73 attacks in which 293 Israelis were killed and 1,950 wounded. In the 11 months between the erection of the first segment at the beginning of August 2003 and the end of June 2004, only three attacks were successful, and all three occurred in the first half of 2003. The value of the fence in saving lives is evident from the data: In 2002, the year before construction started, 457 Israelis were murdered; in 2010, 8 Israelis were killed.
“Israel is the only country that has a fence to secure its borders.”
It is not unreasonable or unusual to build a fence for security purposes. Israel already has fences along the frontiers with Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan, so building a barrier to separate Israel from the Palestinian Authority is not revolutionary. Most nations have fences to protect their borders and several use barriers in political disputes:
- The United States is building a fence to keep out illegal Mexican immigrants.
- Spain built a fence to separate its enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla from Morocco to prevent people from sub-Saharan Africa from entering Europe.
- India constructed a 460-mile barrier in Kashmir to halt infiltrations supported by Pakistan.
- Saudi Arabia built a 60-mile barrier along an undefined border zone with Yemen to halt arms smuggling of weaponry and is constructing a 500-mile fence along its border with Iraq.
- Turkey built a barrier in the southern province of Alexandretta, which was formerly in Syria and is an area that Syria claims as its own.
- In Cyprus, the UN sponsored a security fence reinforcing the island’s de facto partition.
- British-built barriers separate Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods in Belfast. 14
Ironically, after condemning Israel’s barrier, the UN announced plans to build its own fence to improve security around its New York headquarters. 15
“The security fence should be built along the pre-1967 border.”
Critics have complained that the fence is being built beyond Israel’s pre-1967 border, but the so-called “Green Line” was not an internationally recognized border, it was an armistice line between Israel and Jordan pending the negotiation of a final border. As Israel’s Supreme Court noted in its ruling on the route of the barrier, building the fence along that line would have been a political statement and would not accomplish the principal goal of the barrier, namely, the prevention of terror.
The route of the fence must take into account topography, population density, and threat assessment of each area. To be effective in protecting the maximum number of Israelis, it also must incorporate some of the settlements in the West Bank.
Most of the fence runs roughly along the “Green Line.” In some places, the fence is inside this line. One of the most controversial questions has been whether to build the fence around Ariel, a town of approximately 20,000 people. To incorporate Ariel, the fence would have to extend approximately 12 miles into the West Bank. In the short-run, Israel decided to build a separate fence around Ariel.
Palestinians complain that the fence creates “facts on the ground,” but most of the area incorporated within the fence is expected to be part of Israel in any peace agreement with the Palestinians. Israeli negotiators have always envisioned the future border to be the 1967 frontier with modifications to minimize the security risk to Israel and maximize the number of Jews living within the State, and a growing number of Israelis have come to the conclusion that the best solution to the conflict with the Palestinians is separation.
The original route has been repeatedly modified. As a result of the June 2004 Supreme Court decision, the route was altered to move the barrier closer to the 1967 cease-fire line and to make it less burdensome to the Palestinians. The fence is now expected to cover approximately 500 miles and incorporate just 7 percent of the West Bank—less than 160 square miles—on its “Israeli side,” while 2,100 square miles will be on the “Palestinian side.” To date, more than 320 miles of the fence has been completed.
Approximately 99 percent of West Bank Palestinians are on the Palestinian side of the fence. Every effort is being made to exclude Palestinian villages from the area within the fence and no territories are being annexed. The land used in building the security fence is seized for military purposes, not confiscated, and it remains the property of the owner. Legal procedures are already in place to allow every owner to file an objection to the seizure of their land. In addition, Israel budgeted $22 million to compensate Palestinians for the use of their land.
Israel is doing its best to minimize the negative impact on Palestinians in the area of construction and is providing agricultural passageways to allow farmers to continue to cultivate their lands, and crossing points to allow the movement of people and the transfer of goods. Moreover, property owners are offered compensation for the use of their land and for any damage to their trees. Contractors are responsible for carefully uprooting and replanting the trees. So far, more than 60,000 olive trees have been relocated in accordance with this procedure.
Despite Israel’s best efforts, the fence has caused some injury to residents near the fence. Israel’s Supreme Court took up the grievances of Palestinians (who are allowed to petition the court without being Israeli citizens) and ruled the government had to reduce the infringement upon local inhabitants by altering the path of the fence in an area near Jerusalem. Though the Court’s decision made the government’s job of securing the population from terrorist threats more difficult, costly, and time-consuming, the Prime Minister immediately accepted the ruling.
If and when the Palestinians decide to negotiate an end to the conflict, the fence may be torn down or moved (as occurred after Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon). Even without any change, a Palestinian state could now theoretically be created in 93 percent of the West Bank (the PA now controls 100 percent of the Gaza Strip). This is very close to the 97 percent Israel offered to the Palestinians at Camp David in 2000, which means that while other difficult issues remain to be resolved, the territorial aspect of the dispute will be reduced to a negotiation over roughly 90 square miles.
“Israel’s security fence is comparable to the Berlin Wall.”
Although critics have sought to portray the security fence as a kind of “Berlin Wall,” it is nothing of the sort. First, unlike the Berlin Wall, the fence does not separate one people, Germans from Germans, or deny freedom to those on one side. Israel’s security fence separates two peoples, Israelis and Palestinians, and offers freedom and security for both. Second, while Israelis are fully prepared to live with Palestinians, and 20 percent of the Israeli population is already Arab, it is the Palestinians who say they do not want to live with any Jews and call for the West Bank to be judenrein. Third, the fence is not being constructed to prevent the citizens of one state from escaping; it is designed solely to keep terrorists out of Israel.
Finally, most of the barrier will be a chain-link type fence, similar to those used all over the United States, combined with underground and long-range sensors, unmanned aerial vehicles, trenches, landmines and guard paths. Less than 3 percent (about 15 miles) is a 30 -foot -high concrete wall, built in areas where it will prevent Palestinian snipers from shooting at Israeli cars, as they did for three years along the Trans-Israel Highway, one of the country’s main roads.
1 Egypt didn’t achieve independence until 1922; Lebanon, 1946; Jordan, 1946; and Syria, 1946. Many of the Gulf states became independent after Israel: Kuwait, 1961; Bahrain, 1970; the United Arab Emirates, 1971; and Qatar, 1971.
2 Netanel Lorch, One Long War, (Jerusalem: Keter, 1976), pp. 106–110.
3 Anne Sinai and Allen Pollack, The Syrian Arab Republic, (NY: American Academic Association for Peace in the Middle East, 1976), p. 117.
4 Lorch, p. 111.
5 Sinai and Pollack, pp. 130–31.
6 Near East Report, (January 29, 1982).
7 Jerusalem Post, (November 7, 1991).
8 Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense, June 29, 1967, cited in “Israel’s Requirements for Defensible Borders,” Major General (Res) Yaakov Amidror, pp. 25–26.
9 Anthony Cordesman, “Escalating to Nowhere: The Israeli-Palestinian War—The Final Settlement Issues,” (DC: CSIS, January 13, 2005), p. 15.
10 Israel’s Options for Peace, (Tel Aviv: The Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, 1989), pp. 171–72.
11 Herb Keinon, “EU officially publishes settlement guidelines despite Israeli objections,” Jerusalem Post (July 19, 2013).
11a Malcolm Lowe, “The EU’s Embarrassing Little Secret in Labeling Israeli Products,” Gatestone Institute, (November 19, 2015).
12 Douglas Murray, “’Occupied Territories’: What About Cyprus, Kashmir, Tibet?” Gatestone Intitute (July 23, 2013).
13 Speech to the American Jewish Committee, (May 3, 2001).
14 U.S. Department of State, Consular Information Sheet: India, (February 2011).
15 Yair Ettinger, “Highway, fence spur growth in Wadi Ara,” Haaretz, (July 14, 2004).
16 Ben Thein, “Is Israel’s Security Barrier Unique?” Middle East Quarterly, (Fall 2004), pp. 25–32.
17 United Nations, (May 6, 2004).