Can Israel afford Netanyahu's plan for massive border fence with Jordan?

With ISIS eyeing Jordan, Netanyahu wants massive fortification along Israel's eastern border, but defense and finance ministry officials are already squabbling over who will pay for it.

Prime Minister Netanyahu called for the quick and expedient construction of a massive border fence along Israel's eastern border with Jordan, and a source from his office told Ynet that discussions on the issue are making headway. But some are wondering how the state plans to pay for such a grandiose project.



"Our first challenge is to protect our borders. Extremist Islamic forces are knocking on our doors in the north and south and we've set up obstacles against them, except for in one sector," Netanyahu said Sunday at Tel Aviv University's think tank INSS, referring to the border with Jordan.


"The first thing we must do is build a fence in the east. While the fence doesn't stop all infiltrations, gun and rocket fire though it or over it, or the digging of tunnels, it dramatically narrows down infiltration to Israel," he said.


According to a source in his office, the coming weeks will see intense discussions regarding the program and initial steps towards breaking ground will be taken.


The project is massive in scope: A 400-km fence, larger than the one built along Israel's border with Egypt to prevent migrant workers entering the country illegally. Netanyahu views the project as a national mission and is thus expect to allocate billions of shekels for its construction.


Yet a source within the Defense Ministry, which is responsible for leading the project, says the ministry will not foot the bill for fence. "This is a national project, and the state needs to work to find the funds. The Defense Ministry cannot fund this project from the defense budget."


This means that the Finance Ministry will have to find the resources which will allow Israel to build its eastern border fence, which includes not just the fence itself but also a number of technological additions, which will create deterrence, collect intelligence, and allow troops to watch the border around the clock.


A source in the Finance Ministry also indicated that the money will not be forthcoming from the treasury. "The coffers are empty, there is no money. It seems the fence will have to wait for the 2015 budget."


Open border

Out of the 260 km of the southern part of the eastern border running south of the Dead Sea, only the 7 km north of Eilat have been renovated in the recent years.


The northern part, running from the Dead Sea all the way up to the northern border with Syria, is in slightly better condition, with forces and surveillance equipment already in place and in operation.


Nonetheless, the IDF claim Israel's true Achilles' heel in regards to the north is ironically the southern tip of the border – Eilat. Hence, the IDF are focusing most of their efforts in that region, with elite soldiers offering backup to the ongoing surveillance efforts in the area.



פרסום ראשון: 06.30.14, 13:22
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