Building The Security Wall

As Prime Minister Sharon prepares to meet with U.S. President Bush in Washington next week, interest begins to focus once again on the partition wall Israel is building in an attempt to keep terrorists out of some Jewish areas in Israel. <BR><br/>


As Prime Minister Sharon prepares to meet with U.S. President Bush in Washington next week, interest begins to focus once again on the partition wall Israel is building in an attempt to keep terrorists out of some Jewish areas in Israel.

The U.S. is against the wall altogether, but is pressuring Israel to at least build it to the west of the central-Shomron city Ariel. Defense Minister Sha'ul Mofaz promised just this week, however, that the wall would pass to the east of Ariel, thus joining the city with other Israeli cities such as Tel Aviv and Petach Tikvah. Over 100 kilometers of the eight-meter-high wall is already completed.

Senior Cabinet Minister Ehud Olmert spoke to Arutz-7's Haggai Segal today about the partition wall: "The Israeli position regarding the wall is that it should be built, and that it should be built according to the security needs. In no case will it be built along or close to the Green Line." He said that the government's position on this is clear, "and it's not dependent on anyone else's position." He acknowledged that there is a disagreement on the route of the wall:
"The left-wing wants it to go along the Green Line, because they think that in the end, we will turn it into a border, meaning that we will annex whatever is to the west of the wall, and they can't sleep at night from worry about what will happen to the PA entity... Those on the right also think the wall will be a permanent border, and so they want more territory in Israel. I, and the Prime Minister, see this wall as a security measure and nothing more, and therefore I do not agree with either of those positions."

Asked if the wall will pass to the east of Ariel, thus keeping Ariel "Israeli" according to the above positions, Olmert said, "I assume so."

A-7: "You only assume?"

Olmert: "No, I just don't remember the exact route, but the general inclination is yes..."

A-7: "So Sharon will simply say no to Bush next week if he pressures him to build it west of Ariel..."

Olmert: "I don't think he will pressure him so much. The way I know these talks, they're not built in such a way; rather Sharon will present Israel's position, and Bush - who is a good friend of ours - even if he has a different approach... no real clash is expected on this matter..."

A-7 (tongue-in-cheek): "Maybe with the hudna (temporary cessation of terrorism), we don't need the wall at all...?"

Olmert responded that he has his doubts about the hudna and that Israel is not a party to this agreement between the PA and the terrorists. He also explained that the PA had not even begun fighting against the terrorists the way it promised:
"Let me make something very clear. There is a tremendous difference between the present government and that which signed the Oslo Agreements. The Oslo government tried to sell us a vision of a New Middle East, that peace was on our doorstep and that everything would be great. The present government, on the other hand, never promised anything, and has not created any illusions. We are simply involved in a very careful, thought-out experiment, with carefully calculated and justified risks. The Americans, for instance, said straight out that if the PA does not fulfill its obligations, they will not meet with them..."

Atty. Ilan Tzion, director of the Public Council for a Security Fence for Israel, appeared next on Arutz-7's news magazine today. "What we're concerned about," he said, "is that the Prime Minister, for over a year, has simply been holding up construction of the wall, and has not been making decisions on what route it should take."

Arutz-7's Haggai Segal: "It would seem that the reason he's delaying is because he is simply not convinced of the importance of building it."

Tzion: "I agree that that's true - but not because he doesn't think it is important from a security standpoint. Sharon's official position, and that of the government, is that the wall is important. It's just that he doesn't want to build it for other reasons..."

Tzion said that he doesn't care where the wall is built: "If Sharon thinks that he can build the wall even though the U.S. objects, then fine. But if he cannot do so, then let him build it according to a route that the Americans will agree to - but the main thing is that it should be built already!"

Atty. Tzion also said that the wall would pay for itself within a short time: "A drop in terrorist attacks will bring back tourists and investments..."

Segal: "That's only if it in fact leads to a drop in terrorism, which no one can be sure of."

Tzion: "I am sure of it, but I can prove this only after it's completed - and I'm afraid that it won't be..."

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