The vast majority of the Israeli barrier is comprised of an electronic fence surrounded by a detection path, patrol road, ditch, and barbed wires, spanning approximately 65-165 feet (20-50 meters) in width. In those areas where the barrier enters an urban setting, it turns into a stark concrete wall, which requires less land (only a few meters wide) and avoids the wide footprint of the fence.
The barrier is fully built and operational in those areas that are generally along the 1967 lines, and are therefore less controversial, as well as around East Jerusalem. (In total, the barrier has been constructed on or nearly two-thirds of the 1967 lines.) Around the large settlement blocs, where the route is more intrusive into the West Bank, the barrier largely remains in planning stages, unbuilt; construction there is frozen for a variety of reasons, including the relatively quiet security situation, lack of funding, objections by international actors, and Israeli court rulings. (Approximately 30 percent of the planned route has not been constructed yet.)
The drop in terrorism from the West Bank is attributed to various factors: effective action by the Palestinian security forces, heightened Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation, a decision by parts of the Palestinian leadership to reject violence as political tool, and a drop in the motivation of Palestinian militants to engage in terrorism. But undeniably, the large, constructed segments of the barrier have proven to be an effective impediment to many terrorists.
The basic premise of physical separation between Israel and the Palestinians is overwhelmingly supported by the majority of Israelis and remains uncontested, even if at times unpopular, by mainstream international and domestic actors. There is no real argument against a country that aims to prevent terrorists from entering its territory by means of physical barriers along its perimeter. The controversy surrounds the route of the barrier, which deviates from the 1967 lines (the only lines of Israeli sovereignty recognized by the international community) and includes the three large settlement blocs and their surroundings. (The barrier around the Gaza Strip follows the 1967 lines there.)
In terms of area, 8 percent equivalent of the Palestinian territories is located on the Israeli side of the projected barrier. (As a point of comparison, then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered to annex only 5.9 percent of the territories in 2008, as shown in the "Is Peace Possible?" borders presentation.) In demographic terms, roughly 250,000 Palestinians (mostly in East Jerusalem) and 440,000 Jews (in West Bank settlements and in East Jerusalem) remain on its Israeli side, while roughly 75,000 Israelis in 74 settlements remain on its Palestinian side.
The barrier's projected route generally corresponds with Israel's border proposals during both the 2000-1 and the 2008 negotiations. Those segments that do not fall along the border that is eventually decided in a final-status agreement will need to be moved within Israel's new borders. One clear place this will be required is in and around East Jerusalem, where the barrier currently follows the Israeli-declared municipal line of the city, and includes on the Israeli side tens of Palestinian neighborhoods and villages that will make up the Palestinian capital if a peace agreement is reached. Other segments that will likely be rebuilt following a peace agreement are those areas that are currently located on the 1967 lines but that would move into what today is Israel proper in the context of land swaps. (Click here for more information on the theory and reality of land swaps.)