Israel's wall cements psychological divide between Arab, Jew
Many Jews and Arabs miss the daily interactions they had, whether at farm stands or in antique shops, before Israel's security barrier was erected.
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"There can't be a situation in which Qalqilya ... will deteriorate and Kfar Saba will live as a flowering heaven," says Mr. Vald, although he sees the wall as necessary to Israelis' survival.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures The Israeli separation barrier: A West Bank wall
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Indeed, a growing gulf between the neighbors could exacerbate tensions and potentially heighten the security threat.
At the farmer's market in Kfar Saba, produce stand owner Effi Ganot portrays the Palestinians as "a lion in a cage," and responds indignantly when asked whether the barrier should be dismantled. "There's nothing bad about it. Why does the border need to be opened?" he says. "Why does the whole world have to be involved?"
The Bilin model
Weekly protests against the barrier have drawn international sympathy in Palestinian villages like Bilin, where the Israeli army has failed to act on a court order to reroute the fence.
Casualties from those clashes – such as Jawaher Abu Rahma, whom Palestinians say died from tear gas in a January demonstration – are recognized as martyrs. And top officials from the Palestinian government, such as Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, have visited to endorse the model of "resistance" against the Israeli military occupation.
But such protests have largely failed to change Israeli policy. For many Palestinians, the wall seems a fait accompli. "As long as the West is supporting Israel, the wall will never come down," says farmer Zeid, whose section of the wall – emblazoned with "Free Palestine" graffiti – once attracted a tide of foreign officials and reporters.
"I don't believe in the Bilin model," Zeid continues. "People are just getting hurt there. The only way [to remove the barrier] is through our religion – not through violence nor a peace agreement."
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PROSPECTS FOR PEACE
The Israeli-Palestinian peace process has been overshadowed of late by the Arab unrest sweeping the region. But for both Israel and their partners in the Palestinian Authority (PA), the unrest has added urgency to both sides' longtime quest for peace.
With Egypt's ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak, Israel has lost an important regional ally for peace. Mr. Mubarak was instrumental in keeping a lid on Hamas, the Islamist militant group that runs the Gaza Strip. With Mubarak gone, Hamas-Israel tensions have escalated, bringing the worst cross-border violence since the 2009 Gaza war.
The PA, whose popularity was already flagging, is potentially more vulnerable due to the Arab spirit of uprising.
While Palestinians have yet to protest en masse, the example of their fellow Arabs elsewhere could embolden them to revolt against the PA if it doesn't end Israel's occupation. If the PA fails, Hamas – with whom Israel refuses to negotiate – could gain clout, posing a security threat to Israel.
The PA's main strategy now is to build support for a United Nations declaration of statehood in September – whether or not Israel agrees.