Brit Tzedek v'Shalom
Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace
Where We Stand
Israel's Security Barrier Must Not Become a Barrier to Peace
April 1, 2004
Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, the Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace, shares the deep concern of Jews everywhere for the security of Israelis. In the face of ongoing and devastating terrorist attacks from the West Bank, we understand why a broad cross-section of Israelis has called upon their government to erect a security barrier along Israel's border with the West Bank similar to the barriers on Israel's border with the Gaza Strip and Lebanon. Israel has the same right and obligation that all sovereign nations have to protect and defend their citizens. Regrettably, however, we believe that the current route of the barrier will not provide the security that Israelis seek.
PLACING POLITICS ABOVE SECURITY
The current announced route of the barrier is neither the most effective way to provide security, nor will it move Israel and the Palestinians down the path to negotiations—the only way towards true long-term security.
The route of the fence, which deviates significantly from the 1967 border, is not based on security considerations but on a narrow set of political interests (including the settler lobby) which aims to thwart the future formation of a viable Palestinian state. In order to include the maximum number of settlements, the barrier will place 14.5% of the land beyond the 1967 border on the Israeli side, enclosing 280,000 Palestinians on the Israeli side of the barrier. As a result, the proposed barrier will be nearly twice as long and much more expensive to build and defend than if it followed the 1967 border.
A BARRIER TO PEACE
If built according to the current plan, the barrier will disrupt the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, cutting them off from family, work, education, medical and other services. In addition, there are preliminary reports that 120,000 Palestinians have immigrated into East Jerusalem from the West Bank leaving behind their homes and families, fearing they would be cut off from Jerusalem on the Palestinian side of the barrier. This situation can only create greater unrest and resentment among the Palestinian people, fanning the flames of those who incite violence.
While there is strong support across Israeli society for construction of a security barrier, there is also widespread popular support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on the 1967 borders. The construction of a security barrier so far east of the 1967 border increases friction and deepens distrust, seriously eroding the possibility of achieving a lasting peace. Building the barrier along the current route drives a further wedge between the Israeli and Palestinian leadership and pushes back the day when the two parties can return to negotiations.
THE U.S. MUST CONTINUE TO CAMPAIGN FOR REROUTING THE BARRIER
Brit Tzedek v'Shalom supports the U.S. government's commitment to ensuring that Israel constructs its security barrier in a manner consistent with its obligations under the Road Map to Peace in the Middle East. In the face of American pressure, the Sharon government has recently indicated to Washington that it will reroute some of the problematic portions of the barrier. This change in the route is a step in the right direction, but far short of what is required.
Brit Tzedek v'Shalom calls upon the U.S. government, in its engagement with Israel and the Palestinians, to work with Israel to ensure that the security barrier neither prejudges nor prevents future peace negotiations. American support for Israel's security barrier must be conditioned on further revisions of its route to conform closely to the 1967 border between Israel and the West Bank.