Rivlin: Gush Etzion security barrier not needed now

Knesset speaker calls on PM to reconsider fence, says Israelis, Palestinians must learn to live together not apart.

Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin visits Gush Etzion 370  (photo credit: Avraham Fried)
Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin visits Gush Etzion 370
(photo credit: Avraham Fried)
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin called for the government to postpone continued construction of the separation barrier, during a visit to Gush Etzion on Monday.
“The planned path of the separation barrier is no longer relevant,” the Knesset speaker said. “It was planned under security circumstances that no longer exist, and there is no need to revive them.”
Rivlin toured the planned locations of the barrier in the Gush Etzion region of the West Bank with local authority leaders.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is expected to make a decision about the barrier’s path in the coming days.
“Building the barrier will create a new diplomatic front and cause distress to Jewish and Arab residents,” Rivlin stated.
The Knesset speaker said an agreement with the Palestinians will come from coexistence, and that shopping at the Gush Etzion Junction is a great example of that.
“We are in one land, and we must continue to develop ways to live together, rather than separate from one another,” he added.
Rivlin said Netanyahu should reconsider implementing the plans for the barrier, because it was not built when it was needed, in 2003, and that the cost would be over NIS 1 billion.
The construction of the 40-km. barrier was halted in 2011 due to budgetary considerations as well as legal challenges in the High Court of Justice, according to an internal Defense Ministry document obtained by Army Radio at the time.
Gush Etzion Local Council chairman Davidi Perl pointed out that the planned barrier would surround Gush Etzion, saying it would cut the region off from Jerusalem, Hebron and the Cave of the Patriarchs.
In addition, Perl said, the barrier would harm coexistence with Palestinians, calling the plans “intolerable.”
“Hebron and Nablus are flourishing and there is unusual economic development in the region,” South Hebron Local Council chairman Tzviki Bar-Hai stated. “It would be a shame for the barrier to ruin what was built with hard work.”
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.