The delays in the fence / Frozen by lawyers, budgets and politics
Until two years ago, the defense establishment typically blamed leftists and lawyers for the delays in building the separation fence. Anytime a terrorist entered Israel via a gap in the fence, Israel Defense Forces officers would point fingers at the numerous petitions against the route and the High Court of Justice's slowness in ruling on them.
Today, senior officers offer a very different excuse: money. The sharp drop in successful terror attacks, they say, has reduced pressure on the Finance Ministry to fund construction.
But others, including Col. (res.) Shaul Arieli of the Council for Peace and Security, say the real problem is that in all the areas where the fence has yet to be completed, the proposed route cuts deep into the West Bank, and would thus never be approved by either the court or Washington. Therefore, construction has effectively been frozen.
On one point, everyone agrees: The pace of the fence's construction has slowed drastically. When the government first approved the project in 2002, it was supposed to be completed in 2005. Today, the official forecast for completion is 2010. And one senior officer admitted that at the current rate, "it won't even be finished in 2014."
The main remaining holes are around Ariel, Jerusalem and Gush Etzion, plus the entire section south of Yatir. "The budget for the next two years stands at less than a third of what would be needed to finish," the senior officer said. "We aren't pushing the High Court in some cases because even if the court were to approve [the routes], we have no money to complete them. When the number of terror attacks drops, public pressure dies down, and with it, the attention paid to the fence."
Arieli, however, argued that neither the court nor the Americans would approve the current invasive routes for the missing sections, while the right refuses to move the fence closer to the Green Line - and "because of this lack of political consensus, there is no pressure to approve a budget for the fence."
He therefore predicted that the fence will never be completed unless a) an agreement is signed with the Palestinians or b) terror once again surges.
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