Israel Security Chief: Completion of Wall Unnecessary

Progressives have been largely unified in opposition to Israel's construction of a concrete wall, alternatively described as a "security barrier" and euphemistically as a "fence." As one who has seen it up close and personal, I assure you it is nothing less than a large concrete wall with guard towers and barbed wire.  It resembles the perimeter of a maximum security prison complex.  Israel has argued it is necessary for preventing suicide bombings.  But it violates the "green line" that represents the border between Israel proper and the territories it has occupied since June 1967.  It thus cuts deep into territory many of us see as necessary for a contiguous and viable Palestinian state.  It divides Palestinian communities, impedes the access of Palestinians to employment, and in some cases to their own lands.  Personal property has been violated and expropriated.  Members of the international community have joined Palestinians and Israelis in non-violent protests against this "necessary" wall.  Now, the BBC reports that Israel's chief of security has declared its completion unnecessary.

The head of Israel's security service has said there is no security reason for continuing construction of Israel's barrier through the West Bank.

Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin told a parliamentary committee that Israel had enough capabilities to prevent attacks from the Palestinian territory.

Since building began years ago, Israel has maintained that it is a security measure to keep out attackers.

Palestinians reject this, seeing it as a land grab.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8 058609.stm

I expect some backtracking and qualification.  Nevertheless, this strengthens the argument of the Wall's opponents.  Construction must stop immediately.  Share Diskin's perspective with all who support its continuation.

Tags: Israel, Palestine, wall (all tags)

Comments

20 Comments

Tips

for tearing down unnecessary and repressive walls.

by Strummerson 2009-05-20 07:10AM | 0 recs
Some stats

For what it's worth

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsou rce/Peace/osloterr.html

Palestinian terrorist attacks upon Israelis by year.

Year   Deaths
2000   43
2001   207
2002   457
2003   213
2004   124
2005   56
2006   29
2007   13
2008   36

The Israeli Security Chief stated that completion of wall is unnecessary, not the wall is unnecessary. But that's great if the recommendation is to stop all construction, I hope this is adopted.

by oc 2009-05-20 10:30AM | 0 recs
Re: Some stats

I'd be interested to know how many of those casualties were directly connected to the second Intifadah, which was a bi-lateral violent conflict with civilian casualties on both sides, how many of these casualties were active duty soldiers, and how many took place on each side of the Green Line.

These would be necessary to have a real debate over the wall's justification.  "Terrorist attacks" and "Israelis" are both too broad to structure a debate.

by Strummerson 2009-05-20 10:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Some stats

Agreed - that is why I began it with 'for what it's worth.'

by oc 2009-05-20 11:00AM | 0 recs
Re: Some stats

I don't want to give the impression of being dismissive regarding the anxieties Israelis face daily.  I lived in Israel for nearly 8 years and served in the IDF for three.  I will be living in Jerusalem for the summer with my wife and two children under 6 years old.  We will not be taking buses.  Not all people are able to avoid them.

But I do oppose the wall wholeheartedly.  Whatever short term security benefit it brings to Israelis, the genuine and acute hardships it creates feed the conditions in which people are recruited for acts of violence.

Israel has shown an ability to shoulder risks of war.  It's time it shoulders risks for peace.  Only peace will bring security to all involved.  I believe that even if a full two state solution is implemented tomorrow, incidents of violence against civilians will continue for some time.  But it's time to start thinking long term.  The wall may be an effective short-term stop-gap, but it is a long-term disaster for the object of reducing violence.

by Strummerson 2009-05-20 11:09AM | 0 recs
Re: Some stats

Wow, the summer in Jerusalem, I envy you. I hope you and your family have a fantastic (and safe!) time.

by oc 2009-05-20 11:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Some stats

The real comparison is with Israeli civilian deaths before 1967, and those after 1967, because most of the deaths that occurred afterward were mostly in retaliation of the killing of Palestinian civilians.

The rate of Palestinian civilians killed after 2000 was around 4-5 per Israeli civilian killed during the second Intifada, and considerably more afterward.

Are Israeli soldiers who engage in the killing of Palestinian civilians considered "terrorists" also? And if not, why not?

Would any of the killings on either side have occurred if it were not for Israel's colonialism of the Palestinian territories?

by MainStreet 2009-05-20 11:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Completion of Wall Unnecessary

Just to complete the picture, it is evident that the wall did nothing to make Palestinians safer, even though that was not its purpose of the above stats posted by Oak. From B'Tselem.

Fatalities
(OPT=occupied Palestinian territories)
Sept 2000 to Dec 2008

                  OPT Israel

Palestinians killed by Israeli security forces  
                   4792 69
Palestinians killed by Israeli civilians
                     45 2
Israeli civilians killed by Palestinians
                    237 490
Israeli security force personnel killed by Palestinians
                    245 90
Foreign citizens killed by Palestinians
                     17 37
Foreign citizens killed by Israeli security forces
                      6 10  
Palestinians killed by Palestinians
                    594  

Additional data
                  OPT Israel
Palestinian minors killed by Israeli security forces
                  953 3
Israeli minors killed by Palestinians
                   39 84
Palestinians killed during the course of a targeted killing  
                  386  
Palestinians who were the object of a targeted killing
                  233  
Palestinians killed by Palestinians for suspected collaboration with Israel
                  120  
Palestinians who took part in the hostilities and were killed by Israeli security forces
                 1717 61
Palestinians who did not take part in the hostilities and were killed by Israeli security forces (not including the objects of targeted killings)
                2195 5
Palestinians who were killed by Israeli security forces and it is not known if they were taking part in the hostilities
                 880 3

(stats do not include wounding or maiming on either side)

by MainStreet 2009-05-20 12:01PM | 0 recs
Re: Completion of Wall Unnecessary

Sorry, here's the link:

http://www.btselem.org/english/statistic s/Casualties.asp

by MainStreet 2009-05-20 12:02PM | 0 recs
Thanks

The broader and more detailed the stats the better.

by oc 2009-05-20 12:52PM | 0 recs
A plan is coming together

Hints of the Obama-Abdullah II plan

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?c id=1242212419666&pagename=JPost%2FJP Article%2FShowFull

A plan is being developed for Obama's speech in Cairo in 3 weeks to the Muslim world (and world at large). It is based upon the Saudi peace plan. but includes details and some minor changes.

The Arab nations:

call on Arab countries to take trust-building measures in order to clear the air with Israel.

The Palestinian state and Israeli security:

set out conditions for a demilitarized Palestinian state, with east Jerusalem as its capital, within the next four years. Yediot reported that Obama's vision for an independent, democratic and contiguous Palestinian state would not have its own army and would be forbidden from making military agreements with other states, in order to provide for Israel's security.

Right of return:

The initiative would require the Palestinians to give up their claim of a "right of return," according to Yediot, and Europe and the US would arrange compensation for refugees, including foreign passports for those residing abroad.

Jerusalem: old city becomes international.

On a separate, but really sad note...
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?c id=1242212426733&pagename=JPost%2FJP Article%2FShowFull
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has canceled his visit to the United States after his 12-year-old grandson died, the White House said Wednesday.

Condolences to the Mubarak family.

PS, apologies Strummerson, I know this is off topic to your diary.

by oc 2009-05-20 12:03PM | 0 recs
Re: A plan is coming together

"within the next four years"

This is the clanger in this plan.

Why four years? And obviously if the Israeli government will not cease settlement building and expansion from the beginning, immediately, then we will find ourselves on another merrygoround.

Netanyahu will undoubtedly follow Sharon's exanple and put a host of preconditions before negotiations that cannot or will not be met such as recognizing Israel as a Jewish state. Didn't the Afrikaaners have a right to declare South Africa a pure Caucasian state. What was wrong with that?

In my mind, speaking of South Africa, an acceleration of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions efforts against Israel may be necessary to push this plan forward, in fact, to even get it started.

by MainStreet 2009-05-20 01:18PM | 0 recs
Re: A plan is coming together

Give Obama a chance, the process is just getting started. By four years, I don't think anyone is being literal, it just means during Obamas first term.

Also, you need to put aside what you want, if the Arab plan and Obama call for the recognition of a Jewish State then that's what matters.

Your analogy with South Africa as a pure Caucasian state and a Jewish state of Israel is just silly. But once again, your opinion does not matter. Obama and the rest of the world are on board with the Jewish State of Israel. That's not even controversial at this point. And w/o that guarantee then Israel does not need to even enter the negotiations. DOA. Isn't your whole argument (which I agree with) that Israel will lose it's Jewish nature if the occupation goes on. Why would Israel end the occupation and become a non Jewish state?

I think you may have missed the Obama class on 'hope'.

by oc 2009-05-20 01:37PM | 0 recs
Re: A plan is coming together

"if the Arab plan and Obama call for the recognition of a Jewish State then that's what matters."

Do you have a link or authority on these points?

by MainStreet 2009-05-20 07:00PM | 0 recs
Re: A plan is coming together

See anything in the Arab League plan about recognition as a Jewish state. Abbas has already nullified the possibility. And I have frankly not heard the words uttered by Obama, Clinton, or Mitchell. Conclusion: it is just another obstacle planted by the right wing parties.

Arab states unanimously approve Saudi peace initiative

By Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondent

Arab leaders gathering for a two-day summit in Saudi Arabia unanimously approved Wednesday the Saudi peace initiative originally launched in 2002.

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas voted in favor of the initiative, although Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas abstained in the vote.

The plan offers Israel recognition and permanent peace with all Arab countries in return for Israeli withdrawal from lands captured in the 1967 Six Day War. It also calls for setting up a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital and a just solution to the issue of Palestinian refugees.

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah called at the summit for an end to the international blockade on the Palestinian government and to revive efforts to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Addressing the Arab League, the king said "It has become necessary to end the unjust blockade imposed on the Palestinian people as soon as possible so that the peace process can move in an atmosphere far from oppression and force."

by MainStreet 2009-05-20 07:12PM | 0 recs
Re: A plan is coming together

PS: The Palestinians cannot give up the right of return, and will not leave 5 million of their people hanging in air in numerous refugee camps in the Middle East.

One solution is to increase the land proportion given to the Palestinians, even a hunk of the Negev desert perhaps to get them to 30% of original Palestine.

by MainStreet 2009-05-20 01:22PM | 0 recs
Re: A plan is coming together

Please stop, you talkin' crazy, my friend.
Do not declare what the Palestinians can and cannot accept - you are not a Palestinian in Palestine or a refugee!

The plan consists of compensating refugees. No one knows the details as of yet. I'm glad you are not part of the peace process, all demands and no concessions.

- Allocate 30% of Negev: DOA
- Right of Return for 5M: DOA

You must really support the status quo.

by oc 2009-05-20 01:43PM | 0 recs
Re: A plan is coming together

Well just who created the Palestinian refugee problem and who is it that must make amends for it?

The answer: the Nakba, the ethnic cleansing of 800,000 Palestinians, two thirds of their population, in 1948. They have not forgotten. In practical terms, about 10% of the present refugees would elect to return to their family's villages. When we speak of these refugees, we are talking about a theft that was not anticipated by the UN when they declared Israel an independent state. That is why, six months after Independence Day, the UN passed Resolution 194, the right of return.

The only thing that would destroy Israel is its insistance on being an exclusive Jewish state, its ethnocentricism, some say racism, in complete oblivion to what it was that eventually created the Holocaust during the 1930s. It is astonishing.

by MainStreet 2009-05-20 01:56PM | 0 recs
Re: Related news headlines.

BBC: Israel PM Netanyahu 'ready for peace talks'

Mr Netanyahu has consistently refused to back the idea of a Palestinian state.

Israel is ready "to immediately begin" peace talks with the Palestinians and Syria, PM Benjamin Netanyahu has said after returning from the US.

But he insisted that any peace settlement "must find a solution to Israel's security needs".

But the Israeli leader - who also came under pressure to rein in Israeli settlement-building - refrained from endorsing the idea.

(snip)

Earlier, a senior adviser to the prime minister, Ron Dermer, told the Associated Press news agency that the constant focus on a two-state solution was "childish and stupid". (Does that refer to Obama?)

PBS Radio: Hillary Clinton before the microphone this afternoon reiterated Israel's need to curtail and stop settlement activity.

by MainStreet 2009-05-20 01:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Israel Security Chief

The bbc page you link to is extremely short and indirect. It's not really clear what Diskin said and in what context.  And, though it's been several hours since you posted your diary, I see no report on this in Ha'aretz or the Jerusalem Post.

I appreciate your desire to latch on this as a tool to oppose the wall, but, as a story, it doesn't seem like much, at least not yet.

by markjay 2009-05-20 03:57PM | 0 recs

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