CAIRO: Israel is considering building a security fence along the border it shares with Egypt in an attempt to curb refugees and smugglers from crossing over.
The idea was presented by the Israeli Prime Minister s Office Director General Ra anan Dinur to the Knesset Committee on Foreign Workers last Tuesday.
It is understood that Israel is seeking Egypt’s cooperation on building the wall, but Israel is also willing to construct it unilaterally, according to the Israeli daily Haaretz.
Haaretz also reported that Israel Vice Premier Haim Ramon proposed the idea to Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman while on a visit to Cairo a few weeks ago.
The idea comes as Israel is in the process of returning the majority of the Sudanese refugees who have managed to cross the border from Egypt in recent months.
The unilateral construction of the wall would cost approximately $600 million to $700 million. According to Haaretz, the consensus in Israel is that Egypt would not approve of the project. So far, Egypt has not formally responded.
Mohammed Bassiouny, former Egyptian ambassador to Israel and chairman of the Committee on Arab Affairs, Foreign Affairs, and National Security at the Shoura Council, told Daily News Egypt that “if the wall doesn’t impose on Egyptian land, they can build what they want. It must be within the Israeli border.
Bassiouny, however, did not agree that the wall would solve the infiltrations across the border. “The only thing that will guarantee security for Israel is peace, he said. “If the reason for the smuggling stops, then it will no longer happen. Israel must end the occupation and achieve peace, not build more walls.
Gamal Mazloum, military expert and consultant for the Gulf Center for Strategic Studies, told Daily News Egypt that “the border wall could be successful if done with the cooperation of both sides, and with added security measures. And it would be in the security interests of Egypt as well as Israel.
“However, Mazloum added, “a wall will not prevent the tunnels being dug below the surface. It could only, along with other measures, curb the smuggling somewhat.
Mazloum was critical of Israeli expectation that Egypt could unilaterally solve the border problem if it wanted to. “There have been Palestinian bomb attacks for 30 years, even when Israel was in Gaza itself. Why do they have an expectation that Egypt can completely prevent it?