The Separation Barrier
What is the Separation Barrier?
In the name of security, the Israelis are building a barrier on West Bank land east of, and along, the armistice line (called the Green Line). This land, in most people’s mind is the future state of Palestine. It is sometimes called a wall, a fence, an apartheid wall, a security barrier, etc. The International Court of Justice has used the term “wall” in its decision.
is the Separation Barrier?
In the name of security, the Israelis are building a barrier on West Bank land
east of, and along, the armistice line (called the Green Line). This
land, in most people’s mind is the future state of Palestine. It is
sometimes called a wall, a fence, an apartheid wall, a security barrier,
etc. The International Court of Justice has used the term
“wall” in its decision.
is the Israeli’s stated goal in building this barrier?
The Israeli reasoning is that it will prevent Palestinian terrorism from
reaching Israeli citizens, particularly those living in Israeli settlements.
Many other people believe it is a plan to confiscate more land from the
Palestinians or to make them flee the area. Since the barrier goes deep
inside the West Bank in some places, they also believe it undermines the
viability of a future Palestinian State.
is the route of this barrier?
wall is built along the Green Line in some places with much of it on West Bank
land. It weaves in and out of the West Bank “attaching” settlements
to Israel. It will be close to 700 kilometers long and will prevent
Palestinian access to about 55% of the West Bank and 65% of the water
resources. According to past agreements the final border between Israel and the
Palestinian Territory was to be negotiated. The Israeli government has also
announced that another barrier will be built to the east separating the
Palestinians lands from the Jordan River.
Wall is a wide expanse (60 to 100 meters wide) of concrete walls, trenches,
roads, razor wire and electronic surveillance. It also includes guard
towers and gates at intervals. See map at http://www.btselem.org/maps
is the effect of this wall on the Palestinian people?
The wall partly separates Palestinians from Israelis but in many places it
separates Palestinians from Palestinians. It separates Palestinian
children and teachers from schools, villages from clinics and hospitals, farmers
from their farm lands and sources of water, etc. In some cases it goes
right through convents and monasteries or down the middle of a street.
is the “Seam Zone”?
million of the three million Palestinians in the West Bank will be trapped
between the Green Line and the Separation Barrier. Palestinians, whose
homes are in the so called “Seam Zone,” will have to get permits to
live in their own houses, farm their own land, pick their own olives,
etc. These permits have to be renewed every few months and there is no
guarantee that a permit will be renewed. There is also no promise that
the permit will be appropriate to the harvest or planting time.
The Mennonite Central Committee reports on farmers in Jayyous who rely on agriculture
for their livelihood. “Seventy percent of Jayyous’ farmland,
including all seven village wells needed for crop irrigation, ended up on the
other side of the barrier. There are gates, but Israeli soldiers
determine when they are opened and for whom.” (page 7, A Common
Place, September/October 2004)
is the result of the court case brought before the Israeli high court?
In late July, 2004 the Israeli High Court ordered the rerouting of a segment of
the barrier and froze construction on another part of the barrier. In its
first decision the court ordered the Israeli government to reroute about 20
miles of the barrier northwest of Jerusalem. The court did not determine
a new route. In the second decision the court put a temporary suspension on
construction near Har Homa, a settlement in the Bethlehem district.
did the United Nations react to the barrier?
The General Assembly, in 2003, asked the International Court of Justice to give
an advisory opinion on the barrier. The Court issued its opinion on July
9, 2004 saying that “the 450 mile-long system of walls and fences in the
occupied territory ‘gravely’ infringed on the rights of Palestinians, could not
be justified by military needs or national security, and violated international
law.” (Press Release GA/10248 from the UN)
said that the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip were
under military occupation by Israel and that the Fourth Geneva Convention
applied. It also declared that it is the location of the wall, not the
concept, that is illegal and that Israel owes reparations for its destruction
of Palestinian land and buildings.
recognized that Israel had suffered from violence and has the duty to protect
its own citizens. On the other hand, it stated that the route of the wall
gravely infringes on Palestinian rights. The Court also stated that the
policy of building settlements in occupied territory is illegal under
international law. All Nation States who are party to the Fourth Geneva
Convention have an obligation to ensure compliance by Israel.
has been the follow up to the ICJ decision?
The United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly on July 20, 2004 to
demand that Israel comply with its legal obligations as in the advisory opinion
issued by the ICJ (150 in favor with 6 against and 10
abstentions.). It also called on all United National Member States to
comply with their obligations as outlined in the advisory opinion.
Switzerland, as the depository of the Geneva Conventions, has been asked to
report back to the General Assembly on the matter.
Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) have both
adopted resolutions on the Separation Barrier.