2003 October 01 Wednesday
West Bank Barrier Will Not Be Extended Around Ariel

Here is some good news for the Arab-Israeli conflict. The Israeli government is not going to extend the West Bank border fence 12 miles into the West Bank to incorporate the settlement of Ariel.

The Israeli cabinet decided Wednesday not to build its separation barrier around the Jewish settlement of Ariel, but will instead erect a separate fence around the community, an official said.

A lot of settlers live in the settlements in order to get cheaper housing.

"For me, this is Israel. I live here because the money I spent on my four-bedroom house would only have bought me a parking spot in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem," says Solomon, who works in a shop in the Israeli town of Petah Tikva.

The plan instead appears to be to build barriers just around the remote settlements.

Israeli radio reports said similar barriers also would be erected east of several other settlements in the West Bank heartland, including Efrat, south of Bethlehem.

What is not clear from this report is whether the sections that would have been extended to include settlements will instead be completed but closer to the '67 boundary. If those sections are finished then the number of terrorist attacks into Israel will fall quite dramatically. The barrier that separates the Gaza Strip from Israel has greatly reduced the number of attacks emanating from the Gaza Strip. So a complete barrier between the West Bank and Israel should do the same.

The Bush Administration has leaned heavily on the Israeli government to not extend the barrier around Ariel and to keep the barrier closer to the '67 line. The Bush Administration sees settlement expansion and a barrier that extends into the West Bank as obstacles for a final two-state solution.

Settlement expansion threatens Israel's future as a Jewish state and undermines the prospect of a two-state solution with the Palestinians, US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs William Burns said Monday.

There isn't going to be real peace between Israel and the Arabs for many decades and perhaps even longer regardless of what Israel does. But a clear boundary that effectively say "this is mine and that is yours" that also prevents terrorist attacks would at least make the on-going conflict take place at a lower level of casualties.

The total cost of the West Bank fence will be about $200 million dollars.

Israel has already constructed 93 miles (150 kilometers) of the barrier in the north. When finished the fence will stretch 217 miles (350 kilometers) at an estimated cost of $200 million.

Since the US border with Mexico is about 2000 miles this suggests the US could stop the flow of illegal immigrants from Mexico for a cost of less than $2 billion dollars plus some yearly additional maintenance costs as well as continued operation of the Border Patrol. That expenditure would repay itself many times over in reduced state-level government spending for Medicaid, schools, prisons, courts, police, and other costs that are generated by illegal aliens.

Update: The Israeli government has not given up on including Ariel on the Israeli side of the barrier. A barrier will be built on three sides of Ariel, north, south, and east of the settlement and then the Israelis will try to get the United States to agree to the inclusion of Ariel on the Israeli side of the main barrier.

However, at that point, Israel plans to consult with the United States about extending the fences westward until they connect with the main barrier that runs near the West Bank boundary. The result would be unbroken barriers jutting into the West Bank for 10 miles or more.

So Israel has basically pushed off the date of reckoning on whether the more distant settlements should be included as part of Israel.

For the Palestinians trapped on the Israeli side life is not much fun. (Daily Telegraph, free registration required)

Along the way, the fence directly affects the lives of some 200,000 Palestinians. It meanders to and fro, seeking to include as many West Bank settlements as possible on the Israeli side.

East of Qalqilya are the settlements of Zufin and Alfe Menashe. To protect their 6,000 Israeli inhabitants, the fence cuts four miles into the West Bank and surrounds the 42,000 Palestinians who live in Qalqilya.

Yes, for the benefit of 6,000 settlers the lives of 42,000 Palestinians are made much more difficult. You can think of it as the price the Palestinians pay for tolerating the terrorist culture they have created. Or you can think of it as a measure of how far the Israeli government will go to support the existence of Jewish settlers on the West Bank.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2003 October 01 11:42 AM  MidEast Arabs Versus Israelis


Comments
A Berman said at October 2, 2003 6:58 AM:

The fundamental issue here is that the Israeli leadership has not given up it's claim to all of Mandatory Palestine west of the Jordan River. It views the UN borders of 1947 as Auschwitz borders, and it views the borders of the 1948 armstice as better, but still not good enough. Frankly, although I used to be a peacenik, my growing understanding of history and my observations of the Arab world have made me far more sympathetic to the Likud arguments.

Europeans and Americans were perfectly willing to move millions of Sudeten Germans around to create better borders. I'm not sure I see the functional difference between much of the Arab world and the Germans from the 1930s and 1940s, other than the Arabs have a crappy military and no internal unity, except on Jew Hatred.

Sorry if this sounds harsh. But the morality of a position is judged by its standing among all the options. And how moral are the other options--an Israel 9 miles wide at its densest point surrouned by hostile Arab forces, or Israeli control of huge Arab populations? The option of an Israel 9 miles wide surrounded by peaceful Arab countries just doesn't seem like a real option at this point.


Randall Parker said at October 2, 2003 12:02 PM:

Your argument is an argument for Israel maintaining control of a strip of the the West Bank region that borders on Jordan. It is not an argument for building a slender sliver of a fence out 12 miles in order to take in the Ariel settlement. Creating a longer border to defend is dumb. It would make sense to make the border straighter if security was the real issue driving this.

The settlements are getting fence extensions because of their political clout, not because of security considerations. If it was up to the IDF they'd evacuate all the remote settlements because defending those settlements ties down troops that are better used elsewhere. I figure the judgement of the IDF generals means something.


A Berman said at October 2, 2003 1:29 PM:

1) I didn't say that security was driving all of the fence. I said that Likud is not giving up its claim over the entire West Bank. In Rumsfeld's terminology the "so-called" occupied territories.

2) Israel tried being strategically smart about its borders when it left Lebanon. It was viewed as a victory for Hizbullah, and now the Sheeba Farms are being claimed and water from Lebanon is being threatened. If Israel does not protect Ariel, it will be viewed as a victory for Arafat. Kindness is taken for weakness, and perception of weakness drives action. That "Ariel finger" is Sharon's Middle Finger to Arafat.

3) As far as long borders vs. short ones, you have to include the type of territory being defended (flat/mountainous/etc..) not just the length of the border. I believe (though I have no evidence to bring to the table) that Ariel was placed where it was placed for strategic military reasons.

4) Ultimately, I believe that the second best resolution of this is for a contiguous Palestinian region in the West Bank closely federated with Jordan, perhaps even including a piece of Jordan. I see no reason that Jordan can sit there with 80% of Palestine and force the Palestinians and the Israelis to fight over the remaining 20%.

Trent Telenko said at October 2, 2003 4:02 PM:

Randall,

This yammering over the Israeli fence is like debating how many angels are dancing on the heads of a pin. The Palestinians as a people have given their souls over to the Islamist death cult. Everything else is irrelevant besides that fact.

It is all now a matter of waiting for the Israeli jews to "go Jacksonian."

And given the likely course of events elsewhere in the 3rd world, it may not even be especially noticable when it does come to pass.

Randall Parker said at October 2, 2003 4:31 PM:

Trent, Not every Palestinian has become totally given over to the terrorist mindset. The moderate Palestinians have to stay silent or be killed. They deserve some consideration in my view. I look at how Israel treats the Palestinians and realize some of what the Israelis do has to be harsh and unfair to the more benevolent Palestinians because Israel can't always precisely target and precisely defend against only the dangerous ones. Look, I'm realistic about this. Israel has a difficult hand to play. There is going to be collateral damage, innocents killed, innocents treated unjustly.

But that doesn't mean that everything that Israel does to defend its interests should be beyond criticism. Look, the Israelis should have built the stupid wall 10 years ago. Why didn't they? Because a bunch of nutcases wanted to make all the West Bank part of Israel. For demographic reasons alone trying to hang onto all the West Bank and incorporate it into Israel while the Palestinians are living there was always an obviously stupid idea. Yet it had many defenders on the Israeli right. Go figure.

Now, the majority of Israelis are sick of the attacks and are pressuring the government to build the wall that the settlers and their supporters have opposed for so long. So now the Israeli government is putting tens of thousand of Palestinians on the Israeli side of the wall in order to include thousands of settlers. This is both wrong and stupid.

The Jews going Jacksonian: They aren't going to expel the Palestinians if that is what you mean. I don't see that happening unless a really big war starts up or a terrorist WMD attack happens. I just want the wall to be built so that the rate of killing can drop by a couple of orders of magnitude. Then the Israelis will be safe from the bulk of conventional terrorism. They still will face the question of what to do about America's obviously failing policy to contain Iran and North Korea and to stop nuclear proliferation. But that is another kettle of fish.

Ariel and strategic military reasons: I don't believe it.

Trent Telenko said at October 2, 2003 5:45 PM:

Randall,

"Palestinian Moderates" are an isolated and powerless elite with no base of popular support. The average Palestinian Arab-Muslim has embraced the genocide of Israeli jews. Every poll taken by every media outlet or NGO has shown that. More importantly, the popular cult of the suicide bomber shows how far the moral depravity has gone. The Palestinians are sacrificing their children as weapons for hate's sake.

When the over riding goal of Palestinian culture is genocide by any means available, anything and everything the Israelis do in self-defense, including the genocide of the Palestinians, is both justified and moral.

There is no saving the Palestinians or any other culture that has been over come by the Islamist Death Cult meme.

All that is left is waiting for events to unfold. By the time the Israelis work themselves up to it, the world may not even notice.

Consider for a moment the American public's likely reaction to an ISI smuggled Pakistani nuke going off in D.C. during a State of the Union message.


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