Peace needs bridges not walls

August 18, 2003

European Jews for a Just Peace wishes to add its voice to those – in Israel, in Palestine and around the world – who are protesting about the construction of the so-called ‘separation wall’ or ‘fence’. We see it as a clear attack on the possibility of a viable Palestinian state.

Its very existence undermines progress in the current moves towards peace. Its continued construction fuels distrust about any Israeli good intentions in implementing the Road Map. The repression of internationals, Israelis and Palestinians who protest at and near the wall is further evidence of bad faith on the part of Sharon’s government.

This snake-like wall epitomises Sharon’s ‘vision of peace’: a dominant, bullying Israel with a client set of cantons substituting for an independent, viable Palestinian state. It is a recipe for permanently denying Palestinians their rights.

Israel claims the wall is ‘temporary’.

This, ofa mixture of fence and concrete wall on average 8 meters high with watchtowers every 300 metres or so along it. It is twice as high as the Berlin Wall. There are military roads on both sides, trenches 6 metres wide and 4 metres deep, barbed wire, electrified fencing, armoured patrols…In all it is about 100 metres wide in most places. Nobody yet knows how long it will be – estimates vary from 600 to over 1,000 km. It costs an estimated $1m per km.

Israel claims the wall is a security barrier.

But it is not being built on the green line. It is built almost everywhere to the east of the green line, sometimes deep in the occupied territories, appropriating fertile Palestinian farm land in the process. Most incursions into Israel have been through checkpoints on the green line. Building a wall has no relation to this problem.

It is not being built in a straight line.

Nothing like it, to judge by Phase 1, the wall on the northern West Bank . It twists and waves as it curls around to include illegal Israeli settlements on its western side, thus linking them into Israel proper. The fence from Elkana to Camp Ofer was originally planned to be 100 km long. It is now planned to be 210 km. Another 110 km were added to incorporate Israeli settlements on the West Bank. The Palestinian urban centre of Qalqilya will be completely surrounded by the wall, with one opening guarded by two checkpoints. Some Palestinian villages will be left isolated to the west of the wall; others will be on the east side, but with their agricultural lands behind the wall. Tulkarem will be entirely surrounded by a wall, with every movement of people into and out of it controlled by the Israeli army.

There is not just a single wall

Plans exist for a second wall to the east of the main Palestinian towns (except for Jericho). This will confiscate yet further lands all the way down the valley to the Jordan. Palestinians will have free access to less than half of the existing West Bank.

The wall violates human rights.

The human rights of an estimated 210,000 Palestinians are being violated – their rights to freedom of movement, to property, to work and to an adequate standard of living. And this is only the first phase of the wall. The very decision to erect a permanent barrier in the West Bank at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars breaches the Hague Convention, which prohibits expropriation of land in occupied territory.

B’tselem, The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, concludes a study it published in April 2003 by expressing its disquiet in the following measured terms:

“The overall features of the separation-barrier project give the impression that Israel is once again relying on security arguments to unilaterally establish facts on the ground that will affect any future arrangement between Israel and the Palestinians. In the past, Israel used ‘imperative’ military needs” to justify expropriation of land to establish settlements and argued that the action was temporary. The settlements have for some time been facts on the ground and Israel now demands that some of them be annexed into Israel. It is reasonable to assume that, as in the case of the settlements, the separation barrier will become a permanent fact to support Israel’s future claim to annex territories.”

We call on everyone who cares for peace in the Middle East to condemn the ‘separation wall’ which can only set back the causes of peace and justice in the Middle East. We also call for support for those Israeli and Palestinian organisations* that are campaigning against the wall and its consequences.

*These include:

PENGON [Palestinian Environmental NGOs Network] (;

Ta’ayush [Arab Jewish Partnership] (;

B’tselem (; and

Gush Shalom (

The ‘Separation Wall’

European Jews for a Just Peace is a federation of 18 European groups in 9 different European countries.

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