The Palestinian Authority has condemned an order by the Israeli defence minister to build a "provisional" barrier in three areas around east Jerusalem, accusing him of trying to create a fait accompli on the ground and ignoring Israeli and world courts.
Ghassan al-Khatib, the Palestinian planning minister, told Aljazeera on Thursday that Shaul Mofaz was trying to flex his muscles as a potential successor to Ariel Sharon, the ailing prime minister of Israel, at the expense of the Palestinian people.
"This is a new aspect of the increasing Israeli stubbornness due to escalation of challenge among different Israeli leaders," he said.
"Mofaz is one of the Israeli figures who seek to compete over leadership of the coming stage, succeeding Sharon. Therefore, he attempts to look like the fiercest man against Palestinians."
Last Tuesday Mofaz ordered a "provisional" barrier to be built in three areas around east Jerusalem where the high court had ordered construction suspended.
Mofaz said that those three sections of the so-called "separation barrier" that Israel is erecting along the length of the West Bank "could be removed when the high court of justice issues its final ruling", state television reported.
Al-Khatib said: "This decision is not only a violation of the Israeli Supreme Court and International Court's decisions, it also negatively affects the lives of a big part of the Palestinian people as it passes through the centre of an area in Jerusalem where a huge Palestinian population exists.
"The barrier separates Palestinians from each other and endangers their social, economic and human lives. It separates patients from their hospitals, students from their schools, and merchants from their shops."
Mofaz said barrier construction
The three sections where the high court ordered work suspended last year lie near the Bir Nabala neighbourhood and Shuafat refugee camp to the city's north and the Sheikh Said neighbourhood to its south.
Its decision came in response to an appeal lodged by Palestinian residents, complaining of damage to their livelihoods and quality of life.
Israel has said that the barrier is merely designed to
prevent attacks on its soil by would-be suicide bombers.
Al-Khatib described Mofaz's claim that the order was "provisional" as untrue, saying: "Nothing is temporary in Israel. It is all permanent. Israel's depends on the policy of creating a fait accompli on the ground to Judaise Jerusalem."
Alâ€“Khatib called on the International Community to intervene against the plan and "to prevent the Israeli leaders from challenging each other at the expense of the international law and the interests of the Palestinian people''.
"Achieving stability in Israel can not be achieved by locking Palestinians up in cages. Admitting the Palestinians' rights and holding negotiations on international legitimacy bases with them are the only way to achieve peace and stability for the Israelis," he said.
"Nothing is temporary in Israel. It is all permanent. Israel's depends on the policy of creating a fait accompli on the ground to Judaise Jerusalem"
Ghassan al-Khatib, the Palestinian Planning Minister
In July 2004, the International Court of Justice, ICJ, issued a non-binding ruling that parts of the barrier were illegal and should be torn down.
Although Israel has since modified the route along some stretches, the government has vowed to complete the 700km structure by the end of 2006.