Today's Toronto Star describes the massive wall that the Sharon Government is building, not along the Green Line border but often very deep into Palestinian land. The article points to at least the perception that the wall is diminishing terrorism - the reason I support Israel's right to build a wall on the Green Line - but also its horrendous effect on Palestinian civilians, as a result of the byzantine path of the wall into the occupied territories.
The World Court has agreed to hear litigation over the placement of the wall. Israel, anticipating a loss in that forum, is refusing to participate in the proceedings.
Meanwhile, Shaul Arieli, the last Gaza Brigade commander, is criticizing the present fence plan not on the basis of its extension into Palestinian lands, but on more pragmatic grounds: he fears that it will exacerbate terrorism.
Last week, he was called in for a closed session with senior officials of the National Security Council, chaired by Major General (res.) Giora Eiland. Some close associates of prime minister Ariel Sharon have also been listening to what he has to say. He tells all the same - the zigzag route of the fence drawn up by Sharon and the heads of the security establishment will create enclaves within the Palestinian zone, cutting off villages from the large Palestinian cities.
This will not only fail to prevent terror, it will propagate terror, particularly in the close environs of the separation fence. Aside from that, he makes it clear that there is no chance of the world accepting the route of the fence in its current version.
The planned route of the fence, part of which is already standing, was fed by Arieli into a computer, in accordance with updated data furnished by the defense establishment's Seam Line Authority.
The PowerPoint presentation shows, by maps and aerial photos that cover the entire West Bank, the alarming truth about the fence. When completed, some 300,000 Palestinians will be imprisoned between it and the Green Line, cut off from the large urban centers. Another 300,000 Palestinians will be adversely affected by being cut off from their fields or wells.
In the Jerusalem area, the fence will separate 270,000 Palestinians, who would live on the west side of the fence within the metropolitan area of Jerusalem, away from the rest of the Arab population in the West Bank.
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"If you take a good look at the map," says Arieli, explaining what he believes are the real motives behind the fence route, "you'll see that there are also two settlements, Naaleh and Nili, within this enclave in the Budrus area. It's all intended to ensure that both of them will be west of the fence. The enclave in this area captured no less than nine Palestinian villages in the area between the deep-territory barrier and the separation fence that runs along the Green Line.
"The objective is for them to not have access to the State of Israel, for demographic reasons. Conversely, the Palestinian authorities will have a hard time supplying the residents of this area with health, education and legal services, not to mention jobs.
"The village residents will not be able to continue living under these sorts of conditions. They will abandon their homes and go to the big cities, at which point it will be possible to expand the borders of the State of Israel without paying the demographic price. It would be voluntary transfer."