Nobody loves a fence

No one seems neutral when it comes to the security fence Israel is erecting to separate itself from Palestinians on the West Bank.

For many Israelis, it’s simply a matter of safety. They believe the fence is already preventing suicide bombers from sneaking into Israel. Polls have shown that at least 80 percent of Israelis want to see it completed.

For Palestinians, the fence is akin to the Berlin wall. They are incensed for several reasons, but mostly because it is not constructed along the Green Line, or 1967 border, and they believe its route is designed to take more of their land. In some cases, family members in the same village are now cut off from one another, and farmers can’t easily access their own fields.

Certainly the fence has brought hardships, as this week’s cover stories show.

But we haven’t heard any other viable ideas on how Israel can protect itself from the likes of Hamas and the military wings of the Palestinian Authority.

On that note, world leaders don’t seem to be sufficiently concerned about Israel’s security. Instead, they are heavily critical of the fence. There are reports that the United Nations may take up the issue and, worse yet, attempt to expel Israel from U.N. membership.

The issue of the fence is also under review in The Hague, where the International Court of Justice has heard arguments against the fence but hasn’t ruled yet. Once it does, the ruling, which is non-binding, will be passed on to the United Nations.

It is important to note that Israel’s own Supreme Court has heard a case against the fence brought by Palestinians. There’s been no ruling, pending a response by the Sharon government.

But the fact that Israel’s top court is hearing such a case demonstrates that the country is a democracy, unlike its neighbors.

Meanwhile, no one has suggested a plan to keep Israel secure without a fence in place.

Nobody, including Israelis, wants to see this untenable condition to continue indefinitely. One day, we hope, there will be a real peace between the two peoples. It’s unlikely to happen until both Ariel Sharon and Yasser Arafat have passed from the scene. When that day finally arrives, there should be no need for this unsightly barrier.

But no peace can get under way until the Palestinian people demand that their leadership give more than lip service to the cessation of terror.

Unfortunately, that has yet to happen.

If the Palestinians want the fence removed, maybe they should consider that the quickest way is for them to demand that their leaders cease this brutal war.