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Senior Israeli politician: West Bank Wall harms Israel and complicates Palestinians' lives

February 15, 2014 at 1:28 pm

Former Israeli Defence Minister, Moshe Arens, has recommended that Israel destroy the West Bank Wall (Separation Wall) as it does nothing to protect Israel’s security, but harms it on an international level, an Israeli newspaper has said.

Arens, who was head of the Foreign and Security Affairs Committee in the Knesset and Defence Minister for three former governments, told the Israeli newspaper Maariv that “it has today become clear that there is no need for the Wall; it harms Israel on the international level and complicates Palestinian lives.”

The former minister said that during the period of the “wave of mass operations,” the political class was obsessed with the need to build a security fence. “Yet, there was no real justification,” he said.

“There was a state of hysteria. There were operations every day – sometimes two times a day. Shabak was persuaded that these operations would not be stopped except by a fence, everyone had the same feeling and I had the same feeling too. However, it is clear today that there is no relation between the fence and the stopping of operations.”

The veteran militant believes that Israel is able to deal with dangerous operations now. He referred to the field operations of the Israeli army and to the cooperation with the Palestinian Authority police.

“It is clear that the Wall contributed nothing to stopping the operations. The wall does not afford security, but it harms Israel on the international level and complicates the daily life of the Palestinians who do not have access to their farms,” he said.

“We have to recognise that there are a lot of Jews who live behind the wall,” he said. “It looks like spots in the face; the face of Israeli land. There are some fears that this wall might become a political border line in time.”

Maariv noted that Arens adopts the idea of one state and he suggests that Israel should have sovereignty over the occupied West Bank and Palestinian should be given Israeli identities.

The newspaper also said that the extremist Knesset Member, Yoni Shatbon, who is a member of Yisrael Beitinu and the founder of the “Raananim” religious Zionist youth movement, supports the idea of dismantling the Wall.

“The Wall incites the Palestinians to carry out terrorist operations because it reflects a state of weakness and defeat,” he said. “In fact, the Wall helps to undermine operations in the short term, but the long term harms outmatch its benefit.”

According to Shatbon, Israeli needs free access to Palestinian cities, fences and walls. He believes that the Wall was built on a political basis not a practical one. “The planners considered the future political borders,” he said.

Yisrael Beitinu member of the Knesset, Oret Strok, also supports demolition of the Wall. “It is a mistake that has to be corrected,” she said, noting that Israel has spent much money on building it while Shabak and army reports have shown that it has failed to stop operations.

The member of the security and foreign affairs committee in the Knesset, Etan Kabul, from the Labour Party said that it is the political deadlock which harms Israel not the Wall. It is the current Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who bears responsibility for this deadlock.

Kabul did not agree with Arens. He said: “The Wall has awful humanitarian consequences, but Arens believes in its uselessness because he believes in the idea of geographical connection.”

Maariv said that the director of the Peace Now movement, Yariv Oppenheimer, opposes dismantling the Wall. “The one who seeks to dismantle the Wall is seeking to create a reality of a one state with two nationalities. It is undemocratic and not Jewish,” he said.

He also said that work on the Wall has to continue on the bases of the future borders, 1967, and to return the Palestinian land confiscated for its construction to the Palestinians.