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Israeli PM says West Bank barrier there to stay


22 July 2009

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday that Israel’s controversial separation barrier in the occupied West Bank would not be pulled down.

“I hear today people who say that because the situation is calm in the West Bank we can dismantle the security barrier, but it is in fact because of this barrier that there is calm,” he told a session of parliament.

“It is because of this barrier and because of a certain improvement on the part of the Palestinian security services that the situation is calm,” Netanyahu said. “The barrier will stay.”

Israel began erecting the barrier in the wake of the second intifada or uprising, calling it a “security barrier” needed to prevent potential suicide bombers from entering the Jewish state.

Palestinians call the barrier an “apartheid wall” and say its purpose is to grab land and make their promised state unviable by thrusting deep into the West Bank and isolating Jerusalem from the occupied territory.

The controversial barrier consists of more than 400 kilometres (250 miles) of walls, fences and barbed wire, with about 300 kilometres (190 miles) more either being built or planned, according to UN figures which show 87 percent of it to be inside the West Bank and annexed east Jerusalem.

On July 9, 2004 the International Court of Justice issued a non-binding ruling declaring parts of the barrier illegal because they were built inside the occupied West Bank, but Israel pressed on with its construction.

Netanyahu spoke on the same day that the Maariv daily ran a report that the Palestinian Authority (PA) has recently sent a message to US President Barack Obama’s administration, asking that the barrier be dismantled because of the improved security situation in the territory.

There was no comment on the report from the PA.