Israel's new southern wall increases isolation from Arab neighbors

Ilan Pappe [Professor, Department of History, University of Exeter]: "The building of the separation wall between Israel and the West Bank in 2001 and before that the construction of the fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel in 1994, were claimed by official Israel to be barriers against terrorism. In reality, in the case of the West Bank, they separated Palestinians from Palestinians and barred many of them any access to their schools, fields, businesses and neighbors. In the Gaza strip the fence transformed the Strip into a human mega prison for its million and a half inhabitants.

Whereas the sufferings of the Palestinians are very obvious as a result of the fencing of their areas, very few people noticed that the Israelis were also caging themselves. The wall in the West Bank and the fence in the Gaza strip were additional fortifications to those already surrounding the state of Israel: the electric fence built in the northern border of Israel and the one that is now being erected on Israel's southern border.

There is no doubt the Israelis will complete fencing themselves in the south as well. Yes, there are smugglers who have to stopped, but there are other effective means of doing that. There are very few terrorists entering this way and in any case they are outnumbered by asylum seekers from Africa whom the Jewish state would now be able to fend off — forgetting how it was in the name of refugehood that they won the international legitimacy for Israel's establishment.

The most important long term implication of this move is to enhance the siege mentality of the Israeli Jews as a collective and as individuals. The state since its creation has been a crusade citadel alienated by the area into which it forced itself in the late 19th century and of which it still refuses to be a part. The physical separation from the rest of the Middle East would not solve the need to find an equitable democratic and humane solution for the conflict between the Palestinians and the Jews in Israel and Palestine, and will only aggravate further the tensions between Israel and the rest of the Arab world; thus undermining the stability of the world at large."

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