An intrinsic characteristic of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is size. Its duration and the large number of lives it has claimed is proportional to the size of the Wall. According to the Norwegian Refugee Council, the construction of the 700km long Wall is approximately 40% short of completion. What is interesting, is that it supersedes the length of the West Bank-Israel border by more than twice in length. Furthermore, numerous reports indicate that 85% of the Wall reaches into Palestinian territory, giving rise to fears that its completion will take up land the size of Chicago. Even though Palestinians refer to it as the ‘Berlin Wall’, a term which comes with obvious connotations, the sheer size of it far exceeds that of its namesake. Berlin’s 155km long wall, which has an average height of 3.6 meters is tiny in comparison to Israel’s gargantuan wall, averaging 8 meters. To put it in context, the Israeli wall amounts to more than four times the length and twice the height of the Berlin wall.
Despite condemnation by various international actors, the most obvious being the International Court of Justice, Israel has not stopped its construction, arguing that terrorist attacks have been greatly reduced since the completion of is first segment in 2003. In its 2004 Advisory Opinion, the ICJ ruled that the construction of the Wall was not in line with Public International Law. Specifically, it pointed out that its illegality stems from the human rights violations that occur due to the position of the Wall. Reports have shown that Palestinian residents are cut-off from their agricultural lands, while the Wall runs through neighbourhoods creating hardships never before witnessed by Palestinians. Former U.S. President George W. Bush Jr. himself stated that the Wall makes it “very difficult to develop confidence between the Palestinians and the Israel”.
While it is true that suicide attacks have greatly decreased since the beginning of its construction, Palestinian sources beg to differ, referring to two events that may have also proved catalytic in the decreased events of violence. One is ‘Operation Defence Shield’ launched by the Israeli Defence Force in 2002, which resulted in the sudden drop in suicide attacks by Hamas, who consequently agreed to a ceasefire in 2004. While it is debatable whether the Wall has been a catalytic factor in bringing peace in the region, what cannot be denied is that it is a cause for resentment and suffering for many Palestinians. Its existence will definitely play a role in the peace process and the shaping of a future peace deal. The question is, what kind of a peace deal will it be, if there is to be one?
*The views expressed in this article are of the author and do not represent those of The Political Analysis.