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Letter: Israeli barrier violates international law

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Whoever said, "Good fences make for good neighbors," was not thinking of something so severe as the Berlin Wall, or that new version of the same idea, the West Bank Barrier in Israel.

The Israeli West Bank Barrier is a barrier constructed by Israel consisting of a network of fences and walls located mainly within the West Bank. As of April 2006, the length of the barrier as approved by the Israeli government is to be 436 miles long. A portion already completed is a concrete barrier 30 feet high. Approximately 58.04 percent has been constructed, 8.96 percent is under construction, and construction has not yet begun on 33 percent of the barrier.

The barrier is a highly controversial project. Supporters argue that the barrier is a necessary tool protecting Israeli civilians from Palestine terrorism, including suicide bombing attacks. It has significantly reduced the number of suicide bombings from 2002 to 2005.

Opponents argue that the barrier is an illegal attempt to annex Palestinian land under the guise of security, violates international law, effectively halts any attempt at negotiations, and severely restricts Palestinians who live nearby to travel and to have access to work in Israel. In a 2004 decision, the International Court of Justice declared construction of the wall "contrary to international law."

Part of the U.S. package of aid to Israel is the funding of the wall. For every three feet of wall construction the US contributes $5,000, bringing the total outlay to nearly $4 billion. Can we afford this? Can we in good conscience endorse a project that violates international law?

Perhaps it is time to stand up with the late President Ronald Reagan and say, "Israel, tear down that wall!"

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