Israel to alter wall route

Israel is redrawing the route of its West Bank wall in line with an Israeli High Court order.

    Israel moved to obey high court directive on the wall

    An Israeli security source on Tuesday said redrafted Defence Ministry guidelines for the wall - a 100-metre-wide swathe of razor-fringed fencing and concrete - would have it run "as close as possible" to the Israeli-West Bank boundary.

       

    In a precedent-setting 30 June ruling, the High Court said Israel had a right to erect a "barrier" for security reasons on territory it considers "disputed", but ordered a 30-km segment moved to alleviate the hardship of Palestinian villagers.

       

    "We aspire not to separate Palestinians from their lands and build agricultural (access) gates, and of course we will try not to create enclaves. However there might be cases where we have no other alternative," a Defence Ministry spokeswoman said.

     

    Alternatives

     

    The wall curves into the West Bank
    and encircles illegal settlements

    The spokeswoman said a team reviewing the barrier's route was working on alternatives to present to decision-makers in the military and Defence Ministry.

       

    "We aspire not to put the fence next to the Palestinian houses; however, there are cases where we have a 20 or even 5-metre (gap) between the Israeli and Palestinian houses," she added.

       

    Israel says the barrier stops Palestinian fighters from infiltrating from the West Bank. Palestinians condemn it as a disguised attempt to annex land Israel seized in a 1967 war and deny them a viable state.

     

    World court ruling

       

    The network of razor wire-tipped fences and cement walls often curves well into the West Bank to encompass larger settlement blocs.

     

    The World Court, the UN's top judicial arm, on Friday branded the barrier wall illegal and called for its removal.

     

    The verdict was rejected by Israel and hailed by Palestinians.
       

    "We aspire not to put the fence next to the Palestinian houses"

    spokeswoman,
    defence ministry, Israel

    Israeli Prime Minister Sharon denounced the World Court decision as "one-sided and politically motivated". But he said the Israeli High Court order would be heeded.

       

    Sharon intends to retain some illegal West Bank settlement blocs while evacuating all 7500 settlers from smaller enclaves in Gaza next year under a plan to "disengage" from conflict with the Palestinians.

       

    Two senior US security envoys held talks with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon about the repercussions of the World Court decision, unauthorised Jewish settlement outposts in the West Bank and his plan to withdraw settlers from Gaza in 2005.

       

    "The prime minister said at the meeting he was adhering to Israel's commitments and intends to carry them out as soon as possible," Sharon's office said, citing the dismantling of unauthorised outposts and humanitarian gestures towards the

    Palestinians.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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