JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel’s security barrier will
eventually carve off 14 percent of the West Bank, trap 274,000
Palestinians in tiny enclaves and block 400,000 others from their
fields, jobs, schools and hospitals, according to a U.N. report
released yesterday.The string of walls, razor wire, ditches and
fences has enflamed already high tensions between Palestinians and
Israelis. The United States has criticized the barrier’s
planned route deep into the West Bank, saying it could harm efforts
to set up a Palestinian state.Israel has said the barrier is meant
to keep out Palestinian militants responsible for the deaths of
hundreds of Israelis in the past three years of violence. But
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said yesterday it will also
prevent tens of thousands of Palestinians from moving into Israel
— as officials say has occurred in recent years.Palestinians
say the snaking barricade is an Israeli attempt to seize West Bank
land Palestinians claim for a future state.About 90 miles of the
barrier has been completed around the northern West Bank, mainly
following the invisible boundary with Israel. The unbuilt southern
section, almost 430 miles long, will cut up to 14 miles into the
West Bank, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs. This seems aimed at incorporating some Jewish
settlements into the “Israeli” side.The barrier will
carve off 14.5 percent of the West Bank, affecting roughly 680,000
people, nearly one-third of the Palestinians living in the West
Bank, the report said. “People’s lives will be
seriously disrupted,” said David Shearer, head of the local
UNOCHA office. The barrier will be “disastrous” for
farmers, who will find it difficult to get to their fields and
bring their produce to market, he said.“For economic reasons,
for education reasons, people will find it impossible to stay in
these areas, and they will choose to move out,” Shearer
said.Palestinian officials, meanwhile, prepared for a vote of
confidence Wednesday on the new Cabinet of Prime Minister Ahmed
Qureia.U.S. and Israeli officials have expressed reservations that
the Cabinet leaves Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat with a firm
grip over security forces.Even so, Sharon has said he is ready to
meet with Qureia. Palestinian Cabinet secretary Hassan Abu Libdeh
said U.S. officials told him they would also reserve
judgment.“The Americans were not content with the formation
of the government, but they said they would judge the government by
its performance, by its actions,” Abu Libdeh said.Palestinian
officials say they have been pressing militant groups to end
attacks on Israel so talks can resume on implementing the
U.S.-backed “road map” peace plan, which calls for a
Palestinian state by 2005.Palestinians need an “open-ended
cease-fire … that must be reciprocated by the
Israelis,” Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath
said.Israel is not ruling out a cease-fire but it must be backed by
action to crack down on terrorist organizations, a senior Israeli
official said, insisting on anonymity. Qureia has said he will not
use force against the militants.Palestinian officials said they
remained concerned about scores of unauthorized Israeli settlement
outposts throughout the West Bank. The plan calls for a complete
Israeli settlement freeze, which Sharon has so far refused to
order.Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said defense officials
would continue to evaluate the outposts along with Israel’s
security needs.“I have to say that in the past year, a number
of outposts were dismantled,” most of them in agreement with
settlers, Mofaz told Israeli Army Radio yesterday after meeting
with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in Washington.Peace Now, an
Israeli monitoring group, said the number of outposts has dropped
slightly since the road map was unveiled in June, to 101 or 102.
But Peace Now expert Dror Etkes said the population and
infrastructure have grown.Mofaz said the security barrier did not
come up in his talks with Rumsfeld.Asked about concerns the United
States may withhold some aid to Israel because of the fence, Mofaz
said: “I don’t know yet if there will be a price as far
as U.S. aid is concerned. It will certainly be discussed in the
future.”“But to the question of need, I have no doubt
that this is necessary, and I can explain this to the
Americans.”Palestinian officials have strongly condemned the
wall’s route.“Palestinians see the continuation of the
wall as burying the hope for peace and killing the vision of a
two-state solution,” Palestinian Cabinet Minister Saeb Erekat
said. “It’s really a disaster … a human
catastrophe in the fullest extent of the word.”Israeli
officials say the barrier has reduced the number of infiltrations
in areas where it has been completed.

Mira Levitan
A demonstrator passes down a Palestinian flag after spray painting graffiti on the Israeli security barrier. (AP PHOTO)

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel’s security barrier will
eventually carve off 14 percent of the West Bank, trap 274,000
Palestinians in tiny enclaves and block 400,000 others from their
fields, jobs, schools and hospitals, according to a U.N. report
released yesterday.

The string of walls, razor wire, ditches and fences has enflamed
already high tensions between Palestinians and Israelis. The United
States has criticized the barrier’s planned route deep into
the West Bank, saying it could harm efforts to set up a Palestinian
state.

Israel has said the barrier is meant to keep out Palestinian
militants responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Israelis in the
past three years of violence. But Israeli Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon said yesterday it will also prevent tens of thousands of
Palestinians from moving into Israel — as officials say has
occurred in recent years.

Palestinians say the snaking barricade is an Israeli attempt to
seize West Bank land Palestinians claim for a future state.

About 90 miles of the barrier has been completed around the
northern West Bank, mainly following the invisible boundary with
Israel.

The unbuilt southern section, almost 430 miles long, will cut up
to 14 miles into the West Bank, according to the U.N. Office for
the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. This seems aimed at
incorporating some Jewish settlements into the
“Israeli” side.

The barrier will carve off 14.5 percent of the West Bank,
affecting roughly 680,000 people, nearly one-third of the
Palestinians living in the West Bank, the report said.
“People’s lives will be seriously disrupted,”
said David Shearer, head of the local UNOCHA office. The barrier
will be “disastrous” for farmers, who will find it
difficult to get to their fields and bring their produce to market,
he said.

“For economic reasons, for education reasons, people will
find it impossible to stay in these areas, and they will choose to
move out,” Shearer said.Palestinian officials, meanwhile,
prepared for a vote of confidence Wednesday on the new Cabinet of
Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia.

U.S. and Israeli officials have expressed reservations that the
Cabinet leaves Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat with a firm grip
over security forces.

Even so, Sharon has said he is ready to meet with Qureia.
Palestinian Cabinet secretary Hassan Abu Libdeh said U.S. officials
told him they would also reserve judgment.

 

“The Americans were not content with the formation of the
government, but they said they would judge the government by its
performance, by its actions,” Abu Libdeh said.

Palestinian officials say they have been pressing militant
groups to end attacks on Israel so talks can resume on implementing
the U.S.-backed “road map” peace plan, which calls for
a Palestinian state by 2005.

Palestinians need an “open-ended cease-fire … that
must be reciprocated by the Israelis,” Palestinian Foreign
Minister Nabil Shaath said.

Israel is not ruling out a cease-fire but it must be backed by
action to crack down on terrorist organizations, a senior Israeli
official said, insisting on anonymity. Qureia has said he will not
use force against the militants.

Palestinian officials said they remained concerned about scores
of unauthorized Israeli settlement outposts throughout the West
Bank. The plan calls for a complete Israeli settlement freeze,
which Sharon has so far refused to order.

Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said defense officials
would continue to evaluate the outposts along with Israel’s
security needs.

“I have to say that in the past year, a number of outposts
were dismantled,” most of them in agreement with settlers,
Mofaz told Israeli Army Radio yesterday after meeting with Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in Washington.

Peace Now, an Israeli monitoring group, said the number of
outposts has dropped slightly since the road map was unveiled in
June, to 101 or 102. But Peace Now expert Dror Etkes said the
population and infrastructure have grown.

Mofaz said the security barrier did not come up in his talks
with Rumsfeld.

Asked about concerns the United States may withhold some aid to
Israel because of the fence, Mofaz said: “I don’t know
yet if there will be a price as far as U.S. aid is concerned. It
will certainly be discussed in the future.”

“But to the question of need, I have no doubt that this is
necessary, and I can explain this to the Americans.”

Palestinian officials have strongly condemned the wall’s
route.

“Palestinians see the continuation of the wall as burying
the hope for peace and killing the vision of a two-state
solution,” Palestinian Cabinet Minister Saeb Erekat said.
“It’s really a disaster … a human catastrophe in
the fullest extent of the word.”

 

Israeli officials say the barrier has reduced the number of
infiltrations in areas where it has been completed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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