Speaking during a 2016 visit to a newly completed security barrier along Israel’s border with Jordan near the southern Red Sea city of Eilat, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced his intention to one day see the entirety of the Jewish nation fenced in.
“In the end in Israel, as I see it, there will be a fence like this that surrounds the whole country,” Netanyahu said.
“I’ll be told, ‘this is what you want, to protect the villa?’ The answer is yes. Will we surround all of the state of Israel with fences and barriers? The answer is yes. In the environment we live in, we need to protect ourselves from wild beasts.”
“Wild beasts” – also translated as “predators” – was, for many, a phrase targeted at both Palestinians and the citizens of surrounding Arab states. It was, too, a choice of words in keeping with this controversial statesman who has enjoyed jousting with his Middle Eastern neighbours in a colourful career that also sees him currently facing accusations of corruption at home.
Yet, 70 years after the state of Israel was established, questions have been raised over the long-term viability of its penchant to erect barriers and its future plans to further insulate itself in the region.
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Yossi Mekelberg, a professor of international relations at Regent’s University London, said the 708km West Bank wall – which most Israelis claim is a security barrier against “terrorism”, but which is seen by Palestin