Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must complete the security barrier around the settlement blocs, including the West Bank city of Ariel, opposition leader Isaac Herzog said Tuesday.
“The residents of Ariel deserve the same protection as the residents of Tel Aviv,” said the Zionist Union leader during a visit to the southern Samarian city.
Placing the barrier “around Ariel is not a luxury. It is a security necessity that the state owes its citizens. It is unacceptable for the barrier around the settlements blocs to be only partially constructed,” Herzog said.
Ariel is the fourth largest settlement and is home to 18,400 people, as well as the University of Ariel. It is located some 16 kilometers over the pre-1967 lines.
A 2006 cabinet vote called for the barrier to be constructed around that bloc as well as the Gush Etzion and Ma’aleh Adumim blocs.
But to date only 60 percent of that 790 km. route has been completed.
According to the latest data provided to The Jerusalem Post, the project itself has been mostly frozen since 2007.
In a written response, the Defense Ministry told the Post last week, “Thus far, 470 km. of the security barrier have been completed.” It added, “an additional 71 km. still remain.” That would account for a built up route of 541 kilometers.
In October 2014, the Defense Ministry told the Post that 460 km. of the barrier had been completed out of a 525 km. route that did not include the blocs of Ariel, Ma’aleh Adumim and Gush Etzion.
On Tuesday, however, Herzog spoke of the significance of constructing those sections of the barrier both from a security perspective and as a way to separate from the Palestinians.
He has been speaking about this issue as part of an overall separation plan that he unveiled last month based on his new understanding that a two-state solution is not feasible at this time.
“We have to defend the blocs with a separation contagious separation barrier that will prevent terrorist infiltrations on one hand and construction on the other side of the barrier on the other hand,” Herzog said.
It will also allow Palestinians outside the barrier to take charge of their own life, he said.
“We can’t arrive at an agreement with the Palestinians, but we can at least separate the two peoples. We have to create a border beyond which we are no longer building,” he said.
“Otherwise the situation will only get worse.”
He added that of course, the IDF would remain in the territory beyond the barrier.
“We need to create a reality of two separate peoples rather than one living amongst the other. Only in this way will we secure Israel’s existence as a Jewish nation and not an Arab-Jewish state,” Herzog said.