Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Pros and Cons
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Last updated on: 2/28/2012 1:09:34 PM PST

Is the Israeli Fence/Wall/Barrier Good for the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process?


General Reference (not clearly pro or con)

Dan Rothem, Senior Research Consultant for the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace, wrote in his Nov. 4, 2011 article "How Israel's Security Barrier Affects a Final Border" in The Atlantic:
"The controversy surrounds the route of the barrier, which deviates from the 1967 lines (the only lines of Israeli sovereignty recognized by the international community) and includes the three large settlement blocs and their surroundings. (The barrier around the Gaza Strip follows the 1967 lines there.)

The barrier's projected route generally corresponds with Israel's border proposals during both the 2000-1 and the 2008 negotiations. Those segments that do not fall along the border that is eventually decided in a final-status agreement will need to be moved within Israel's new borders. One clear place this will be required is in and around East Jerusalem, where the barrier currently follows the Israeli-declared municipal line of the city, and includes on the Israeli side tens of Palestinian neighborhoods and villages that will make up the Palestinian capital if a peace agreement is reached. Other segments that will likely be rebuilt following a peace agreement are those areas that are currently located on the 1967 lines but that would move into what today is Israel proper in the context of land swaps...

The barrier is the most drastic change in the territorial landscape of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since the erection of Israeli settlements and may well eventually be the most consequential. The barrier was conceived at a time when there was not an Israeli consensus about the creation of a Palestinian state - and ironically, may have been one of the driving factors in conditioning the Israeli public to the idea of partition; despite its controversial route, the barrier was an implicit statement that any settlements outside the barrier would not be part of Israel."

Nov. 4, 2011 - Dan Rothem 

Is the Israeli Fence/Wall/Barrier Good for the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process?

PRO (yes) CON (no)
The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stated in its Nov. 1, 2007 article "Israel, the Conflict and Peace: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions," published on its website:
"Terrorism is a deadly obstacle to peace. The fence is a defensive obstacle to terrorism. The purpose of the fence is to keep the terrorists out and, thereby, save the lives of Israel's citizens, Jews and Arabs alike. By serving as a temporary, passive and effective barrier to terrorism, the fence will help restore calm to the region and thereby increase the chances of achieving peace. The wave of terrorism which has murdered over 1,100 Israelis since September 2000 has undermined the peace process and led to deadlock."

Nov. 1, 2007 - Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs 

Mortimer B. Zuckerman, Editor in Chief of US News and World Report, in a Dec. 15, 2003 editorial titled "The Price of Intransigence," wrote the following:
"Some argue that the fence is a barrier to peace. Wrong. It is the very lack of a fence that has made it possible for Hamas and Islamic Jihad to hold the peace process hostage, since they initiate attacks every time progress seems possible. By taking the strategic threat of suicide bombings off the table, both sides would have more latitude for serious negotiations."

Dec. 15, 2003 - Mortimer B. Zuckerman 

Pierre Tristam, Editor and Publisher of the non-profit news organization Flaglerlive.com, wrote in his article "In Defense of the Fence" on About.com (accessed Feb. 24, 2012):
"After... years of bloodshed, the level of hatred, fear and distrust is extremely high in the Middle East. The conditions for making peace are sorely lacking.

Separation is a practical way to lower the level of violence, reduce the hatred, fear and distrust, and restore conditions for peace. A fence is not the ideal solution to the Middle East. The ideal solution would be for both Israelis and Palestinians to accept and respect each other's presence, rights, history, values, beliefs, and ways.

However, a security fence, that is built with sensitivity for Palestinian concerns, can be an important first step toward that ideal solution. If the fence means that the next generation of Israelis won't live with the constant threat of terrorist attack and the next generation of Palestinians won't live with the feeling of being occupied by an enemy, then peaceful coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians can become a realistic hope."

Feb. 24, 2012 - Pierre Tristam 

Nita M. Lowey, US Congresswoman (D-NY), joined by 30 other Members of the House of Representatives, wrote the following in an Aug. 5, 2003 letter to US President George W. Bush:
"The construction of a security fence by the State of Israel acknowledges what we all know to be true: no security or peace plan can move forward in the face of violence. Despite Israel’s efforts towards peace, the people of Israel have faced continued terrorist attacks. Although Israelis are tired of the violence, uncertainty, and fear, the Israeli government continues to engage in a good faith effort to achieve peace and security in the entire region. We should strongly support that effort."

Aug. 5, 2003 - Nita M. Lowey 

Robert Satloff, PhD, Executive Director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, wrote in his July 23, 2003 article "The Good Fence" in the Baltimore Sun:
"More than the roap map... the fence stands a good chance of fundamentally transforming the strategic landscape between Israelis and Palestinians. Indeed, if any initiative can revive the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - a solution that had all but vanished as a result of the terrorism and violence... it is the erection of a physical barrier between Israelis and Palestinians. With even moderate Palestinian leaders forswearing any serious effort to disarm terrorists or fulfill obligations to 'dismantle terrorist infrastructure,' constructing a fence may be the only effective protection against the next wave of suicide bombers... Israel's security fence will separate two peoples, Israelis and Palestinians, offering the prospect of security to both."

July 23, 2003 - Robert Satloff, PhD 

George Gavrilis, PhD, Executive Director of the Hollings Center for International Dialogue, wrote in a 2004 article "Sharon's Endgame for the West Bank Barrier" in Washington Quarterly:
"The barrier and disengagement plan promise to dispense with such complications and unilaterally remove settlements, reduce terrorism, and enable a provisional Palestinian state. Thus, despite common claims that the fence threatens to retard any progress that has been made toward peace thus far, this controversial mechanism in fact stands the greatest chance of speeding Israel and the Palestinians toward simplified negotiations in the medium term over the singular issue of affixing final borders."

2004 - George Gavrilis, PhD 

Charles Krauthammer, MA, MD, syndicated columnist, in a Feb. 25, 2005 Washington Post commentary titled "Israel Draws the Line," wrote:
"The beauty of the withdrawal/fence plan is that, in the interim, it creates a stable status quo with a minimal level of violence. In that interim, Israel can live in peace and the Palestinians can develop the institutions of their state and begin to contemplate a final end to the conflict."

Feb. 25, 2005 - Charles Krauthammer, MA, MD 

David Makovsky, MA, Senior Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, in a Feb. 24, 2004 Los Angeles Times commentary titled "A Fence That Makes Sense," wrote the following:
"The fence is there only to stop the attacks. This is undeniably the fence that terrorism built; if there was no terror, there would be no fence.

The establishment of a fence is supported by an overwhelming 83 percent of Israeli Jews, buoyed by the 100 percent success rate of halting Palestinian infiltrations from Gaza since early 2001, after the fence separating Israel from Gaza was rebuilt. There is some irony that it is Israel that stands in the docket at the International Court of Justice at The Hague... for taking a defensive measure. After all, what are the Israelis supposed to do? Palestinian critics say Israel should not expect the Palestinian security services to protect Israelis and that Israel should not target Hamas killers for assassination. Now it seems that Israel should not passively defend itself by building a barrier, either. What's left?...

The fence will make it safe for Israel to leave most of the West Bank, not stay there. This debate would never have occurred so long as withdrawal meant trusting Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat rather than a fence.

By definition, a fence cannot resolve the conflict, but it might be able to manage it until the post-Arafat era begins. If it can save lives and begin disentangling these two hostile populations, this will be an important contribution."

Feb. 24, 2004 - David Makovsky, MA 

Charles Schumer, JD, US Senator (D-NY), as quoted in an Aug. 5, 2003 Associated Press article, said:
"By building a security fence in the West Bank, the Israeli government is pushing a reasonable defensive policy that respects the terms of the cease-fire currently in force and does no violence to the Palestinian people."

Aug. 5, 2003 - Charles Schumer, JD 

Mahmoud Abbas, CSc, President of the Palestinian Authority, as quoted in a Dec. 30, 2004 article "Abbas Calls on Israel to Tear Down West Bank Barrier" by the Associated Press, wrote:
"I say to our neighbors... no fence will bring peace or bring you security... If the Israelis want to reach a fair and just peace, they will take down the wall."

Dec. 30, 2004 - Mahmoud Abbas, Csc 

Navi Pillay, JSD, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a Feb. 11, 2011 statement in Jerusalem, printed on the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees website:
"The combined effects of the illegal settlements and the Wall, that has been diverted illegally to protect them, have been devastating on the social, economic and cultural rights of many thousands of Palestinians. Families are divided from each other and from their neighbours, from their agricultural land and other sources of income, from their water sources and from other important infrastructure and services, including schools, health clinics and hospitals. Their new neighbours, the illegal settlers, often treat them with contempt, hostility and even physical violence. The settlers receive massive protection from Israeli security forces, but hardly any protection is being provided to the Palestinians living next door...

[Y]ou have to talk to its victims, to get a glimpse of the intensely negative impact the fragmentation of the West Bank by the Wall, settlements and checkpoints is having on human rights, peace, development and the Palestinians’ right to self-determination."

Feb. 11, 2011 - Navi Pillay, JSD 

Noam Chomsky, PhD, Professor of Linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), wrote in his Feb. 23, 2004 New York Times article titled "A Wall as a Weapon":
"What this wall is really doing is taking Palestinian lands. It is also... helping turn Palestinian communities into dungeons, next to which the bantustans of South Africa look like symbols of freedom, sovereignty and self-determination.

Even before construction of the barrier was under way, the United Nations estimated that Israeli barriers, infrastructure projects and settlements had created 50 disconnected Palestinian pockets in the West Bank. As the design of the wall was coming into view, the World Bank estimated that it might isolate 250,000 to 300,000 Palestinians, more than 10 percent of the population, and that it might effectively annex up to 10 percent of West Bank land. And when the government of Ariel Sharon finally published its proposed map, it became clear the the wall would cut the West Bank into 16 isolated enclaves, confined to just 42 percent of the West Bank land that Mr. Sharon had previously said could be ceded to a Palestinian state."

Feb. 23, 2004 - Noam Chomsky, PhD 

The United Nations (UN) adopted the Oct. 27, 2003 Resolution ES-10/13, as published on the UN website:
"...[T]he route marked out for the wall under construction by Israel, the occupying Power, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, could prejudge future negotiations and make the two-state solution physically impossible to implement and would cause further humanitarian hardship to the Palestinians..."

Oct. 27, 2003 - United Nations (UN) 

Daniel Seidemann, JD, founder of Israeli NGO Terrestrial Jerusalem, wrote in his Sep. 3, 2003 article "Caged" in the Guardian:
"If the fence as planned over the next three months is carried out in Jerusalem, I'm convinced that will be the end of the peace process... Ironically, the higher this wall goes, the closer East Jerusalem becomes to Ramallah. If Israel treats the residents of East Jerusalem like the residents of Ramallah, the problem will not be car bombs being smuggled into Jerusalem; they will be built here."

Sep. 3, 2003 - Daniel Seidemann, JD 

George W. Bush, MBA, 43rd US President, in a Nov. 20, 2003 speech at Whitehall Palace, London (as published in the Associated Press):
"Israel should freeze settlement construction, dismantle unauthorized outposts, end the daily humiliation of the Palestinian people, and not prejudice final negotiations with the placements of walls and fences."

Nov. 20, 2003 - George W. Bush, MBA 

Oxford Pro Bono Publico (OPBP), wrote in its 2004 publication "Legal Consequences of Israel's Construction of a Separation Barrier in the Occupied Territories":
"The Barrier separates Palestinian communities on different sides of the Barrier within the Occupied Territories, as well as separating Palestinians from Israeli Arabs in the Israel itself. Consequently, the Barrier, the opening of its gates, and the permit system make it more difficult for Palestinians to take part in cultural activities among members of their group. The Barrier contributes to the isolation and fragmentation of Palestinians, at a time when a strengthening cultural identity is an important part of the peace process leading to the establishment of a Palestinian State...

In its current form, Israel’s construction of the separation Barrier in the Occupied Territories violates both international humanitarian law and international human rights law. Israel has not presented any compelling justification on security grounds for the Barrier as it is currently being constructed, and the Barrier imposes unnecessary and disproportionate restrictions on the human rights of Palestinians."

2004 - Oxford Pro Bono Publico (OPBP) 

Jimmy Carter, PhD, 39th President of the United States and 2002 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, wrote in his 2006 book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid:
"With increasing control of East Jerusalem, with relative security from the wall surrounding what is left of the West Bank, and with thousands of remaining settlers east of the wall protected by a strong occupying force, there is a temptation for some Israelis simply to avoid any further efforts to seek a peace agreement based on the Quartet's Roadmap or good-faith negotiations on any other basis."

2006 - Jimmy Carter 

The Churches for Middle East Peace published on its website an Aug. 26, 2003 "Statement Regarding the Separation Wall," signed by 10 Patriarchs and heads of churches in Jerusalem, which stated:
"We appeal to both Authorities -- Israeli and Palestinian -- and to all Peace-loving peoples around the world, (who should make urgent contact with their leaders, both Political and Religious), in an effort to remove this impediment [the Wall] to a comprehensive and lasting Peace."

Aug. 26, 2003 - Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP)  

The International Commission of Jurists wrote in its July 2004 legal analysis "Israel's Separation Barrier: Challenges to the Rule of Law and Human Rights":
"The construction of the Barrier as constructed at present violates human rights law. It undermines efforts to obtain peace in the region through a just and durable solution... The International Commission of Jurists calls on all parties, including third parties facilitating political dialogue, to fully respect human rights and humanitarian law and to base their policies on these standards. Human rights and humanitarian law cannot be selectively invoked by either party and apply even in the fight against terrorist acts."

2004 - International Commission of Jurists 

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