The Jewish magazine Forward reports decreased terrorist attacks have reduced public pressure for the completion of the fence separating the West Bank from Israel.
The Israeli public has traditionally shown massive support for the fence, but public pressure appears to be on the wane following the sharp decrease in terrorist activity since the start of the Israeli-Palestinian cease-fire. Counting on this lull, a group of Likud Knesset members who oppose the fence, fearing it will isolate Jewish settlements and weaken Israel's claim to the entire West Bank, decided this week to defy Sharon and bottle up his request for emergency funding for the fence.
The Likud rebels have conveniently latched on to the high cost of the fence, which will ultimately exceed $1 billion, as an excuse to delay further construction. The opponents point to massive budget cuts recently approved by the government and the Knesset, claiming that money for the fence would be better spent easing some of the social hardships created by the austerity measures.
I see the fence as a good thing. It will make it harder for Palestinians to launch terrorist attacks. Also, any land on the Palestinian side of the fence really is going to be hard for the settlers to hang onto. A clear dividing line that says "what is on that side is yours and what is on this side is ours" is what is sorely needed. There is no settlement possible between the Palestinians and Israelis as long as the settlers are living all over the West Bank. However, even with the remote settlement closed down and the fence constructed I still expect a sizeable minority (if not even majority) of Palestinians to support continued attacks on Israel. Plus, the Israelis, by extending the fence to take in some of the West Bank settlements, are rubbing more salt on the wound.
The larger Arab-Israeli conflict is not going to end as long as the Arabs reject in their own minds the existence of a Jewish state in their neighborhood. My guess is that rejection is going to continue for decades and perhaps centuries - at least if Israel continues to exist for that long.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2003 July 25 11:12 AM MidEast Arabs Versus Israelis|