The Israeli cabinet has approved the construction of the next phase of its controversial security fence through the West Bank.
The government has decided to press on with construction to keep out suicide bombers.
The decision comes a day after a United Nations report condemned the barrier as illegal and tantamount to "an unlawful act of annexation".
Does the security fence undermine the peace process? Is it a good way of dealing with the situation? Tell us what you think?
The following comments reflect the balance of views we have received:
This debate is now closed. Read your comments below.
I worked in Northern Ireland during the 1980's, and have visited Israel and the Palestinian Territories on many occasions. One thing I have learned is that fences and walls put up in the name of peace and security serve only to emphasise the fear and mistrust of people who are literally neighbours. Once established such fences and barriers become near impossible to remove.
History shows that fortifications, walls and fences all come down eventually because the reasons for their being soon erode. In this age of mass communication and rapid advancement Israel is closing its society and retreating from the world. It is building a prison for its people, one that it will have to maintain and guard forever.
Graham Casey, Australia
What hopes for peace?
There never was a chance for this peace process to succeed because the rulers of both sides (Sharon, Arafat etc) owe their positions to the war.
They have no incentive for peace because it would weaken their political positions.
This security fence reflects the Israeli vision of assuring self-security without a frank attempt to reach a comprehensive peace accord and what's making it worse is that the US is just condemning the building process without any direct intervention by any diplomatic means.
Eman Abdelhalim, Egypt
When you put up fences in your mind you are the poorer for it. So it is with real fences.
Michael Harris, Cork, Ireland
Peace will be achieved when the two sides stop hating each other. They must learn to do this no matter what, otherwise the cycle of violence will continue with or without the fence.
National security is most important for any country. Only powerful, secure and responsible nation can think about peace process. It's an essential step which has been taken so late.
Pradeep Shukla, Chicago, USA
The fence seriously undermines the peace process and is nothing more than an illegal border that will only perpetuate the cycle of violence in the Middle East. I think that overtime people around the world will come to see this fence driving thru Palestinian land has a symbol of apartheid and greed.
The security fence is to teach the Palestinian militants the way to behaviour in a civilised world. If you want/need peace you should learn how to be peaceful because it does not take two violent people to bring peace. For people to co-exist in a society one has to be sensible in taking the right decisions while the other learns from it. Israel's security fence would rather bring peace as it is the right decision to sustain the peace process.
Nicholas Kofi Asamoah, UK
The fence highlights the inability of the present of leaders to meet their people's dreams. Both sides need a new generation of leaders detached from history and committed to the future.
Artur Freitas, South Africa
Only the Palestinians can decide whether or not to cease terrorism - Israel has every right to take defensive measures on behalf of its citizens, as have we all.
I find it sad that people here call the suicide bombers 'terrorists'. Such brainwashed people. These 'terrorists' are a bit cross about having their land stolen from them in living memory and being forced to live in penury as a consequence. And are they any worse than the F16/Apache wielding Israelis that our government and the US support so enthusiastically? Perhaps we should contemplate how we would feel in the Palestinians' situation before we insult them. Their anger is understandable and justifiable: their plight is utterly appalling. Terrorists? No way!
The wall will prevent deaths on both sides. It will stop the suicide bombers for the Israelis and the retaliations on the Palestinians. Once the Militant groups figure out that they have no more weight in the process then peace can be achieved.
The fence stands as a representative monument to the lack of creative flair exhibited by the minds engaged in the peace process. Grey, stark, intransigent and monolithic. To resolve the situation peacefully we need skilful negotiators whose presence is enhanced by super-power status.
Connor Morrow, UK
The security undermines the peace process. It is an overt act of unfriendliness that is being justified by the idea that the Palestinians are the troublemakers in the Middle East. I think of it as a kind of new 'Berlin Wall'. And, its appearance seems to be against the whole spirit of good communications and friendship. Without those things... how can anybody believe that peace will come in this troubled region.
We celebrated the removal of the Berlin wall. In some respects this Israeli wall is worse because it cuts through Palestinian land, farms and settlements i.e. it does not follow the Israel border. I support Israel's right to exist in security and am against Palestinian terrorism but I am also against Israeli terror. The wall is unlikely to achieve good and will certainly cause problems. Tony
The wall will cause the Palestinians to separate into two cultures - those on the Israel side willing to peacefully work with Israelis and enjoy a higher standard of living and those exiled to the Palestinian side who refuse to denounce violence and continue to live in poverty.
Mark, United States
This wall is built on Palestinian soil, hence destroys the hope for peace. The problem from the Palestinian view is that the Israeli F-16's and apache helicopters can continue to destroy Palestinian infrastructure, and, hence demolish the Palestinian state. The wall doesn't protect the Palestinians at all. UN should send peace keeping troops to Israel.
A fence is not the answer...communication and respect for each other is the answer.
Tony Gomez, USA
The fence is a good idea. The reality is that some communities simply cannot co-exist and, while the Left day-dream about an impossible peace, children are blown apart in school buses. Israel does not have the luxury of idealism while its people are being murdered.
Israel needs to build upon constructive peace efforts, and not a fence which is bound to come down sooner or later.
The fence is a temporary measure that will help reduce the violence between the Palestinians and the Israelis. This will help both sides reach a diplomatic solution. Once there is peace in the region, the fence can and will come down.
David May, USA
Surely with the fence in place what you in fact end up with is a two state solution. It's not the right way to establish the boundaries of the two states, but by default that is what will be created.
Much like the Berlin wall, once a thing is up it is very difficult to get it taken down. I'd say this does not bode well for the "peace process", then again, I never thought either side was really serious about it in the first place.
Not only is the fence illegal, it is also foolish. In spite of any initial reduction of acts of violence towards Israel, those in favour of the fence must see that the problem is still there and will erupt in one way or another sooner or later. The fence is another barrier to peace and will only lead to more violence in the long run.
Tom, Canada/ Mexico
The fence is every bit as repugnant as the suicide attacks. Peace doesn't suit the political agendas of Sharon OR Arafat, so innocent deaths on both sides will continue despite this pointless construction.
Whilst others have mentioned the failure of other "walls" around the world there is one major difference. This wall is designed to stop people/ terrorists coming in, not stopping people get out. The attitude isn't one of control of its people, but defence of its people.
Peter B, USA/ UK
If the fence was designed to promote
security it would be built on the boundary
between Palestinian and Israeli land. In fact
it is being built through the middle of
Palestinian lands, dividing communities and
trying to grab land for the Israelis. This
fence is being built by a government that
sees expansion as being more important
Both sides should ask themselves whether they really want peace. If they truly do, a barrier is unnecessary as there would be no need for suicide bombers. However I believe that there are too many militant and extremist views cemented into the minds of the countries concerned. It is up to the adults to teach the children peace, not the history of antagonism and revenge, before any of this can change.
Whatever Israel does it is for the benefit of Israel alone and the fence is just another move towards a "greater Israel" and the West just stands there dumbfounded whilst pointing the finger at other countries. It should be remembered that Israel is in defiance of over 65 UN Resolutions.
C J Benjafield, Saudi Arabia
The repugnant Berlin wall came crashing down several years ago; in its place an indefensible wall - call it the Sharon wall - is being hurriedly constructed. Worse, it flagrantly encroaches on Palestinian land.
The road map will lead nowhere. It's time the international community imposed a settlement as in Bosnia.
What peace hopes? There never were any! I think Israel has every right to build fences, in fact it would be better if they were reinforced concrete walls. The suicide bombers are terrorists and nothing more and if Israel can protect themselves from these terrorists then good for them.
Peace will come sooner once the terrorist attacks stop and Israelis gain confidence in the process once again. The fence has an important role in establishing this, regardless of the unwarranted criticism.
It may take a generation or two, but eventually this will all be moot. The entire region will inevitably become one entity or country if you will, with one person and one vote. In that way, the Palestinians will have won. Israel thinks that it can create a hermetically sealed state, but it must realize that it will go the way of South Africa. One segment of the population cannot subjugate another without an inevitable backlash, and apartheid is apartheid, wherever it is found.
We all know what happened to the last country that needed fences to control its population.
The fence is a symbol of lack of trust. The peace process cannot continue without trust. It may make some Israelis feel safer, but even they realise it will not stop the war. It will only strengthen the resolve of the Palestinians who are being constantly mis-treated by the violation of international law.
The security barrier is a sensible and practical idea to cut down on the carnage. The fewer suicide attacks that get through, the less the necessity for the Israeli military to respond. Once the Palestinians begin to realize that they cannot intimidate the Israelis with violence, then they might become more reasonable and realistic. Good fences make for good neighbours. The Israelis ought to build this barrier tall and wide, deep, strong and long. The Great Wall of China managed to keep out the Mongols for over 1,000 years....
David, Milwaukee, WI, USA
Its probably true to say that segregation has the effect of polarising fractious communities slowing down the healing process. On the other hand, it should also be pointed out that if the intention is to save lives then this MUST surely be an acceptable trade-off.
Patrick V. Staton,
This new 'security' wall makes a two-state solution less likely. The only option left is the one state bi-national solution with equal rights for Israelis and Palestinians. Somehow I doubt the Israelis want this and they will still push for a two state solution however unviable their offer.
James Wild, UK
The security fence is a necessary reaction to Palestinian terrorism. If the Palestinians would pursue their cause by peaceful means then they would gain the respect of fair-minded people throughout the world and, significantly, they would be much more likely to achieve their goals. Terrorism is counterproductive.
This action will only tend to infuriate the 'freedom fighters' causing more unrest. It is also a defiance of the UN and more of a show of power by Israel.
Ali Asghar Shabbir, Lahore, Pakistan
Its up to the Palestinians to stop the suicide bombings. Once they do that then Israel has no excuse for the fence!
The security fence is a secure basis from which both sides can begin talks and reconciliation. As with the peace wall in Belfast it will help to relieve tensions and allow for less aggressive Israeli tactics by the army in preventing terrorist attacks within the communities that they surround.
Paul Stevenson, Northern Ireland
From the Great Wall of China to the Berlin Wall, these sorts of barriers inevitably fail, so will this one. The security fence is an act of political desperation. There is really only one alternative, only one true and just choice - an independent Palestinian state composed of the West Bank and Gaza.
The peace hopes of the security fence, will deteriorate this goal. The security fence constructed by Israel is a protection measure, not a purpose for peace. Is a way of isolating the Israelis from the Palestinians, distancing from them and procuring a defence line for the state of Israel. There will be a backlash to the Israeli decision, when the Arabs will try to find new ways to overcome this barrier.
Jose Nigrin, Guatemala
It's not the fence itself so much as where the fence is located. If built along the 1967 Green Line, the fence might be good for both sides. However, the recent construction is to go deeply into disputed West Bank territory to encircle settlements. It reveals that the Sharon government is not serious about dismantling the settlements. This can't help the process and is a major setback.
Suicide bombings undermine the peace process; the fence is the only way to put an end to them and re-start the process.
Inna Tysoe, USA
Of course it is! It is a brute act of annexation, which expels the peasants from their lands, uprooting their trees and cultures and stealing their water, and force them to migrate to the new created ghettoes. And please stop calling that thing "fence", or "barrier", of whatever: it is a Wall of Apartheid (your picture is misleading) higher and longer than the Berlin Wall designed to create the batustanization of what remains from Palestine.
The only reason the Palestinians object to a fence that will prevent yet more children from being horrendously murdered is that they are afraid of losing their ISRAELI jobs, health care, and social services. If they wanted an independent state, they would be welcoming the fence. Their objections show that an independent state has never been their goal.
Inna Tysoe, USA
The Israeli government simply have no respect for anyone but themselves and only America can take the necessary action, but won't.