It’s a time for celebration in Israel as Yom Ha’atzmaut approaches. After days of mourning the dead from the Holocaust and the War on Terror–which began long before 2001 for Israelis–there is finally cause to celebrate. Israel is now 68 years-old as a modern nation-state, though of course it is thousands of years old as a center of civilization. And yet, the Jewish people still face enormous danger, despite having a safe haven to finally return to. The horrific attack on two elderly women, one of whom is a Holocaust survivor, in Jerusalem’s Forest of Peace, along with a soldier being injured by pipe bombs, underscores the need to finish the security barrier in Judea & Samaria.
This Third Intifada of stabbing attacks, car ramming, rock throwings, and shooting may be slowing down, but it certainly isn’t over. The Likud Government shouldn’t underestimate the radicalized Palestinians’ desire to wound or kill, nor should it continue to just forge ahead with the unstable status quo. Already, world bodies are increasingly criticizing Israel for “not doing enough” to separate from the Palestinians. It would be in the best interest of the Israeli people and government to finally finish the wall, starting this year. As Yitzhak Herzog said, it would be an easy way to retain at least the vast majority of Jewish “settlements” while also ending the violence and getting Arab neighborhoods of eastern Jerusalem on the Palestinian side of the border. This would make it much harder for any terrorist to penetrate or cross into the Israeli side to carry out an attack. Moreover, the “giving away” of certain Arab sectors to the PA will rid Israel of dirty, unsafe, and poor neighborhoods that taint its capital while also showing the PA and the UN that the Jewish state is willing to hand over some parts of Jerusalem (and at that, ones that hold no significance to the Jewish people in any way).
Building the wall to completion will also benefit the Prime Minister, and serve his goal of trying to look like “Mr. Security”. For one, there will be less criticism of him from other figures in the Knesset that argue that Bibi is either unwilling to make peace and save Israel’s image in the international community, or that he is all talk and no action. Secondly, it will alleviate the tensions between the Jewish residents of Judea & Samaria and the anti-settlement movement, including those in the government, by essentially annexing the “settlements” after the wall is built. Thirdly, handing over Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem to the Palestinian Authority may calm down some of the tensions that exist between Israel and the Palestinians. And finally, taking the advice of Herzog might encourage him and some of his Zionist Union allies to help form a government coalition, which Netanyahu has wanted for a while now.
In any case, the prime minister should finish the security barrier by next year. It will keep Israel safe, keep its citizens (along with tourists and those considering making aliyah) calm, and demonstrate to the world that under no condition will Israel sacrifice its safety and ancient heartland just to appease extremists and the politically-correct crowd. Israel has made enough concessions for peace (as we’ve seen with Gaza and past negotiations), with little to no reward. Never again.