Text size

The bodies of the victims of yesterday's terror attack in Jerusalem were still scattered around the bombed out bus when Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz incorporated them into the Israeli information campaign in The Hague. The terror attack, he said, proves there is absolutely no justification in questioning the separation fence.

Indeed, in the short term at least, in areas where the construction of the fence has been completed - it has significantly decreased the number of infiltrations and has saved many lives. Shin Bet security service head Avi Dichter has stated that "the marked decrease in the number of people crossing the fence into the state of Israel has become significant with the progress of the barrier in the segments between Salem and Tul Karm and the Jerusalem envelope."

These words are cited in the last State Comptroller's Report on the area of the seam line. According to that report, the complaint of the citizens of Jerusalem does not need to be directed to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

The reckoning in blood - human lives and money wasted that could have been used to buy more security - that has gone to waste because of the failed attempt to transform a barrier against terror attacks into a barrier against a political agreement with the Palestinians, should be submitted in Jerusalem.

The first account should be submitted to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. It was Sharon who in July, 2002, asked the security cabinet to approve the plan for the seam line area and the Jerusalem envelope. The State Comptroller found at the end of 2003 that Phase 3 (between Elkanah and Jerusalem, including the eastern part of the Jerusalem envelope) and Phase 4 (between Jerusalem and Um Daraj in the area of the Dead Sea) had not yet been brought before the government for approval.

The government had not set a timetable for their implementation nor had it budgeted funds for them. The State Comptroller had already warned in the 2000 Report that "the plan for the barrier is not complete, the route is partial and not based on detailed and approved planning, and it is not possible to derive a partial implementation plan in accordance with the resources and according to priorities." He stressed that key flaws about which he had warned in the previous report had not been rectified.

The cabinet determined that the staff work would be concentrated in the hands of the National Security Council (NSC). But the prime minister, who is directly responsible for the NSC, in August, 2002, the head of the council, allowed Ephraim Halevy, to set aside the seam line plan. The way the NSC shrugged off the decision by the ministerial committee, and the way it was done, "do not concord with the principles of proper administration."

The Defense Ministry and the Israel Defense Forces hastened to fill the vacuum. Through a new "administration" they expanded their authority from the building of the, barrier into the policy, legal, economic, information, demographic and other civilian realms. "The decision as to what is to serve as the coordinating body must be made at the government level," writes the Comptroller, noting what ought to be obvious, "and not at the implementation level ` the defense system or another body."

The second account should be submitted to the defense minister (and before that, to the chief of staff) and to the director-general of his ministry, Amos Yaron. They thumbed their noses at the opinions of the Judge Advocate General's Office, which warned that the intrusive route of the fence and the enclaves it has created that imprison thousands of people within them would not stand the test of the High Court of Justice.

The former attorney general, Amnon Rubinstein, must tell why he refrained from raising a clamor in light of the stupid attempt to take the name of security in vain, in order to curry favor with the Jewish settlers in the territories and their patrons in the government.

Where was the "national explainer," Major General (res.) Amos Gilad, who at the time when he was coordinator of activities in the territories was supposed to explain to those in charge the serious implications of the invasive route for the lives of the population there?

All of these politicians and security people, who have heaped praises on the initiative to erect a barrier between Israel and a neighbor whom they see as unqualified for dialogue and coexistence, bear the bulk of the blame for the failures of the fence. The magnitude of the blame is equivalent to the magnitude of the praise.