The PM also told cabinet colleagues on Tuesday the US administration and other members of the international peace Quartet (the UN, EU and Russia) should demand Israel explain how its new initiatives could possibly promote peace.

"These moves are dangerous. Building on occupied land is clearly a violation of international law and the road map. I want to know what the US administration has to say to Israel," Qurei said.

The veteran politician was referring to two recently announced projects in the West Bank. Israel described its intentions on Friday to build another wall to separate confiscated land in Hebron (al-Khalil) from other Palestinian territories in the city.

Fate unclear

According to officials, the Israeli occupation army has handed over its plan for the wall to Attorney-General Menachem Mazus for a ruling. Nearly 400 Jewish colonists live with about 170,000 Palestinians in Hebron.

Israeli officials did not clear what would happen to the 30,000 Palestinians who live in the Israeli-controlled area if the wall was built in the city.

Israel's cabinet has voted to set
up a university in Ariel colony

However, the officials admitted that the attorney-general might cancel the plan since the limitations it imposes on the Palestinians violates international law.

Hebron Mayor Mustafa Abd al-Nabi al-Natshi said that building a separation wall in the city would distort, deform and disfigure one of the world's most ancient towns and would be a real crime against humanity, adding that the "Israeli army wants to decimate the lives of 170,000 Palestinians for the sake of 400 Jewish fanatics".

Israel is already building a barrier along the line between it and the West Bank. The International Court of Justice ruled that the wall, built on land Israel seized in the 1967 Middle East war, is illegal.

New university

The second project criticised by Qurei as a dangerous move was the Sharon cabinet's approval of the first Israeli university on occupied foreign land.

The decision on Monday meant turning one of Bar Ilan University's colleges into an independent university in the Ariel settlement, south of the West Bank city of Nablus.

"Building on occupied land is clearly a violation of international law and the road map. I want to know what the US administration has
to say to Israel"

Ahmad Qurei,
Palestinian Prime Minister

The decision was made after British university professors decided to boycott Haifa and Bar Ilan universities on the grounds of the latter's involvement with the college, Aljazeera's correspondent in Palestine reported.

Agencies reported quoting an Education Ministry spokeswoman that 13 ministers backed the proposal to upgrade the status of the College of Judea and Samaria in Ariel, while seven voted against the proposal at the weekly cabinet meeting.

Ariel, which is home to about 17,000 Jewish settlers, lies 20km behind the internationally recognised Palestinian border with Israel.

Palestinian Planning Minister, Ghassan al-Khatib, has also called the decision to upgrade the college a dangerous step at a time when a ceasefire has buoyed hopes for a renewal of peace negotiations.