Quraya says wall is barrier to peace

Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmad Quraya, with his back to a wall Israel has built that cuts through the West Bank, has said peace will never dawn in the Middle East unless the barrier is removed.

    Quraya said wall left no chance for a Palestinian state

    Israel says the barrier, a mix of fences and concrete walls that encroaches on West Bank land by differing amounts along its entire 150 km, is built for security reasons.

    Palestinians call it an attempt to annexe or fragment occupied land. Quraya visited one section that encircles the Palestinian town of Qalqilya to dramatise their case against it.

    "From the edge of this racist separation wall, I appeal to the United States, to President George Bush, Europe and the United Nations to (understand) that this leaves no chance for the establishment of a Palestinian state," he said in the shadow of the 10-metre-high barrier.
     
    "I am not saying this emotionally. I am trying to attract attention to what they (Israel) are trying to do through this wall. They are drawing a picture of an imposed solution on the ground," said Quraya, who took office in November.

    The barrier's serpentine course has separated Palestinian farmers from their fields and crippled trade between villages and market towns like Qalqilya, where 40,000 people are ringed by concrete except for one gap with an Israeli army checkpoint.

    Israel is threatening a unilateral separation along the line of the wall to replace a tattered US-backed peace plan. The Palestinians fear this will dash their dream of a viable state of their own.

    Cantons and 'bantustans'

    Quraya says wall will carve up West
    Bank into cantons and ''bantustans''

    "Any talk of a state (for us) is a waste of time now because this wall... is meant to transform the West Bank into cantons and 'bantustans' in which there will be no form of (genuine) Palestinian rule or any chance for a Palestinian state," Quraya said.

    "But our people will not give in. They have several options and they will carry out such options."

    He did not elaborate, but last week he said Palestinians might demand a "bi-national" state encompassing both Israel and occupied territory, where Arabs could be in the majority.

    Another option, according to the Palestine Liberation Organisation's executive committee led by President Yasir Arafat, might be to proclaim a state unilaterally in the West Bank and Gaza, to counter Israel's threat to go it alone.

    Shatter peace hopes

    Aides to right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon denounced both Palestinian threats, saying they would shatter the "two-state solution" prescribed by the US-backed "road map" peace plan. Palestinians say the same of the barrier.

    The wall separates farmers from their
    fields

    Quraya, in a speech to Qalqilya citizens later, urged Bush to explain how he would see the "two-state solution" that underpins his peace plan to fruition if the barrier were completed. The fence is due to extend hundreds of kilometres, looping around
    large Jewish settlements.

    Sharon's coalition endorsed the road map only under strong US pressure and attached reservations designed to retain major settlement blocs in the occupied territories.

    "We haven't cancelled the two-state option. But does Israel really want this solution?" Quraya said.

    Although formally accepted by both sides, the road map has been wrecked by violence and a failure by both sides to take steps including a disarming of Palestinian activists and an Israeli army pullback from West Bank cities.

    The Bush administration sees Palestinian "terrorism" as the biggest obstacle to the plan.

    But US officials also fear the barrier could make any future Palestinian state unviable.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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