Roadblocks, Security and the Fence

For all the hype about the Fence being built–or the Wall, depending on your ideological persuasion–between coastal Israel and the west bank of the Jordan river, little has been published in the mainstream press about its effects on the security and well-being of the Palestinians.
The New York Times today makes a bit of its front page available for a story on how the Israelis [are] to Extend Barrier Deeper Into West Bank, but little is mentioned how this will allow Israel to remove 40 roadblocks to ease Palestinian’s lot. Little was also written in the Times on how the Fence has made Jenin, the former Suicide-bomber’s capital, thrive.
I am not arguing that building a barrier around the town of Ariel is the right thing to do–but, given the situation on the ground, it certainly adds incentive to the Palestinians to cease the violence and begin negotiations. That is why the quote the NYTimes runs by Saeb Erekat is so ridiculous. He asks: “If the Israelis build the wall around Ariel, what is left to negotiate?” Well, everything, actually. It is not like the Fence now makes the settlements any more real then they were before–it only takes away the Palestinian’s violence card, and forces them to talk.
That’s why the Fatah Central Council has decided to form a special committee to study the demands of the Aksa Martyrs Brigades militia, and might even stop their funding since the militia has been ineffective ever since the barrier cut them off.
It also proves that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will not be solved unless the Israeli-Arab conflict is solved along with it. That is the card the Palestinians should play if they would like to exact the most Israeli concessions–it would be hard for a prime minister to turn-down a true offer of normalization, one made at a negotiating table and not in a Thomas Friedman column, if the fate of Israel in the region rested upon it.
So, let the building continue, and the negotiations begin.

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