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.
- From a 19 November 2003 statement by then President George W. Bush
"The General Assembly...[d]emands also that Israel, the occupying Power, comply with its legal obligations under international law, as mentioned in the advisory opinion rendered on 9 July 2004 by the International Court of Justice and as demanded in resolution ES-10/15 and resolution ES-10/13 of 21 October 2003, and that it cease the construction of the wall in the Occupied Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, dismantle forthwith the structure situated therein, repeal or render ineffective all legislative and regulatory acts relating thereto, and make reparation for all damages caused by the construction of the wall;" - UN Resolution 59/124 (25 January 2005)
OCHA's 2008 Powerpoint presentation gives an overview of how the Separation Barrier fits into the overall system of restrictions placed upon the West Bank by Israel. Click view show and then the forward arrow to move through each section of each slide.
For some Israelis and their supporters the separation barrier represents the most tangible symbol of and reason for the dramatic decrease in suicide attacks against Israelis civilians. For most Palestinians and many in the international community, this barrier is one among several reasons for such a decline. The ELCA supports the right and duty of the State of Israel to protect its civilians. But given the barrier's route, what's most at stake now are the lives of average Palestinians who are divided from their jobs, schools, farm fields, medical care and families—and who must spend hours each day in border crossings within Palestinian territory.
"What do I say to that?" Claire, her mother, wondered aloud. She, her husband and their 4 children live in Bethlehem in a house surrounded by walls on 3 sides (see photo below). They live near Rachel's Tomb, the site sacred to Muslims, Christians and Jews, especially women trying to conceive, as Rachel did after a long wait. Now, the site has been sealed off from Palestinian Christians and Muslims, with the only entrance from the Israeli side of the wall. In addition, the wall has been built to enclose an area that is planned to be a controversial new settlement, perhaps begun by some of the more ideological settlers from Hebron. Although all the land you see in these pictures is Palestinian land, the Israeli separation barrier cuts up and confiscates this area near Rachel's Tomb, which was on the once main busy road to Jerusalem. Now, most businesses are closed. Some Palestinians are cut off from their businesses by the separation barrier. In the picture at left, everything on the right side of the barrier has been confiscated by Israel. The separation barrier cuts way in to the left, confiscating all those olive trees and leaving no room for expansion of the crowded Aida refugee camp, which is right next to the barrier. The controversial Gilo settlement, on the hill, continues to expand, most recently with a plan for a related settlement to the south, which will swallow up a villages like Walaja and others. While building continues in the settlements (note the cranes in Gilo), building permits are very difficult to get for Palestinians.Claire wonders how to raise her children without them becoming perpetually angry and depressed, as the wall even darkens their apartment by blocking out the light. "In'shallah (God willing)," says Claire, "some day these walls will come down and my children can run and play and we can see the sun again." We live in hope with you, Claire.
Compared with such major negotiation issues as Palestinian refugees, Israeli settlements, and the status of Jerusalem, the separation barrier has become less prominent in discussions about peace in the past few years. However, in the interim before a successful peace agreement, you can help Palestinians by ensuring that members of Congress and administration staff recognize
The 2005 ELCA’s Churchwide Strategy for Engagement in Israel and Palestine calls for "An end to further expansion of the separation wall on Palestinian territory and the related appropriation of natural resources (e.g., water, farmland)" and "Suspension of the planned construction of the separation wall, the path of which threatens the viability of the ELCJHL schools in the Bethlehem area and LWF health ministries and vocational schools that serve Palestinians." (Section B. Outcomes)
In A Moment of Truth: Kairos Palestine issued in December 2009 by Palestinian Christians, they stated that "The separation wall erected on Palestinian territory, a large part of which has been confiscated for this purpose, has turned our towns and villages into prisons, separating them from one another, making them dispersed and divided cantons." (Section 1.1.1)
In 2004, the International Court of Justice in The Hague, gave its advisory opinion on the question of the legality of the separation barrier being built by Israel. The opinion was in response to the request of the UN General Assembly of 3 December 2004.The court stated unequivocally, and contrary to the position held by Israel, that international human rights law applies in its entirety in occupied territory, along with humanitarian law. The court ruled that the separation barrier violates rights set forth in conventions to which Israel is party. The court mentioned the rights to freedom of movement and the right against invasion of privacy of home and family, which are enshrined in Articles 12 and 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the right to work, to an adequate standard of living, health, and education, which are enshrined in Articles 6, 11, 12, and 13 of the International covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural rights.Furthermore, it found that the separation barrier is intended to assist the settlements, the establishment of which violates Article 49 of the Convention. Also, the court pointed out that the restrictions placed on the local population located between the barrier and the Green Line are liable to lead to abandonment of the land, which also constitutes a violation of Article 49. In addition, the opinion stated that taking control of private land to build the barrier injured private property owners, and thus violated Articles 46 and 52 of the Hague Regulations of 1907 and of Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Israel does not accept the validity or legitimacy of the court's ruling.There have been many challenges by Palestinian villages and Israeli peace groups to the route of the barrier to the Israeli courts, some of which have led to changes in the route. Most, however, are unsuccessful, and Palestinians continue to be separated from their land, their jobs, their schools and their families. It is estimated that about 250,000 Palestinians will be isolated because of the wall. Some Israelis object to the cost of the wall, about $2 million per kilometer.
While many Israelis refer to this structure as the "security fence," many Palestinians call it the "segregation wall." The ELCA Peace Not Walls campaign, along with a number of American and Israeli peace groups, uses the term "separation barrier," because that best describes the structure and what it does. It is important to move beyond the naming of this structure to the more pertinent issues of its path and effects on both Palestinians and Israelis. Because Israelis in most cases are prohibited from visiting West Bank towns under Palestinian control, it is not surprising that in a Fall 2010 poll, 71% of Israelis reported having no Arab friends (The Sadat Chair for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland, Professor Shibley Telhami, principal investigator) This barrier continues to divide people as well as land.
"Reiterating its opposition to settlement activities in the Occupied Territories and to any activities involving the confiscation of land, disruption of the livelihood of protected persons and the de facto annexation of land, [d]emands that Israel stop and reverse the construction of the wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, which is in departure of the Armistice Line of 1949 and is in contradiction to relevant provisions of international law;" - UN Tenth Emergency Special Session Resolution ES-10/13 (21 October 2003)
"the Court is of the opinion that the construction of the wall and its associated régime impede the liberty of movement of the inhabitants of the Occupied Palestinian Territory (with the exception of Israeli citizens and those assimilated thereto) as guaranteed under Article 12, paragraph 1, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. They also impede the exercise by the persons concerned of the right to work, to health, to education and to an adequate standard of living as proclaimed in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Lastly, the construction of the wall and its associated régime, by contributing to the demographic changes...contravene Article 49, paragraph 6, of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Security Council resolutions [446, 452, 465]." - International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion on Separation Barrier, para. 134 (9 July 2004)
"[the Court] is not convinced that the specific course Israel has chosen for the wall was necessary to attain its security objectives. The wall, along the route chosen, and its associated régime gravely infringe a number of rights of Palestinians residing in the territory occupied by Israel, and the infringements resulting from that route cannot be justified by military exigencies or by the requirements of national security or public order. The construction of such a wall accordingly constitutes breaches by Israel of various of its obligations under the applicable international humanitarian law and human rights instruments." - International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion on Separation Barrier, para. 137 (9 July 2004)