Israel Increases Budget For Security Fence

By Julie Stahl | July 7, 2008 | 8:14 PM EDT

Herzliya, Israel ( - Despite international opposition to the route of a security fence now under construction, Israel's finance minister is pouring more money into the project to speed up its completion.

Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu increased the fence-building budget by more than $160 million for the current year.

The barrier dividing Israel and the West Bank has been the source of a great deal of friction between Israel and most of the rest of the world.

The United Nations Security Council has been unable to pass a resolution against the fence due to U.S. veto power, but the U.N. General Assembly last week referred the matter to the International Court of Justice in the Hague for an advisory ruling on the legality of the barrier.

Some countries, including the U.S., say they are not opposed to the fence itself - but they do object to the route the fence is taking, because it cuts across land Palestinians would like to claim for a future state.

Speaking at a national security conference in the Mediterranean coastal city of Herzliya Wednesday, Netanyahu said that building the fence is so effective in stopping suicide bombers he decided to allocate another 700 million shekels (about $160 million) to the fence budget for this year.

"It is very, very effective. Its success is proven...against this kind of terror," Netanyahu said. "This won't stop all the terror. There is a problem with rockets, but this helps."

Security officials say the fence has slowed down several suicide bombers by making them go around the fence, giving Israel the time it needed to thwart the attacks, including one that was planned for a high school in northern Israel.

Netanyahu compared the situation that Israel is now facing in combating suicide bombers to the threat of terror attacks and hijackings on civilian airliners, which the world faced in the 1970s and 1980s.

At the time, people were in despair and frustrated because they believed they could not solve the problem, he said. But according to Netanyahu, he himself said that countries could go on the offensive against terrorist organizations first by imposing economic, aviation, and political sanctions and then by taking security measures in airports and on airplanes. "It did bring a decrease in terror," he said.

The Western nations had "built a fence" so to speak, he said. "They simply put a partition between the terrorists and their targets."

Likewise, Israel is also taking aggressive action against terrorism first by going on the offensive by attacking centers of terrorist activity deep inside Palestinian territory, thereby limiting their ability to carry out attacks and then by taking the defensive measure of constructing the fence.

"We are building a security fence that will separate between... the Palestinian terror and the Jewish population center," Netanyahu said.

Palestinians complain that not only does the fence cut many off from their farmlands, schools or towns, but they also charge that Israel is constructing the fence as part of a political move to establish facts on the ground and seize lands from a future state.

Israel's Security Agency Chief Avi Dichter said on Tuesday that the fence must be completed no matter how it is financed.

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