Israel rules out halting apartheid wall

Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has rejected his Palestinian counterpart’s demand that Israel stop building a controversial wall through the West Bank as a condition for talks.

The PM won't meet Palestinian demands ahead of talks
The PM won't meet Palestinian demands ahead of talks

“I hereby notify you that no condition shall be accepted … regarding the cessation of the fence, dismantling of the fence and other fabrications,” Sharon was quoted as saying in the official report on Sunday’s cabinet meeting.

Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmad Quraya has said that Israel must stop work on the barrier before he would meet Sharon for talks on ending three years of Israeli-Palestinian violence and reviving a US-backed peace plan.

Destruction of prospects

Palestinians say the construction of the wall and new Jewish settlements on their land destroys any prospect for a viable state.

“We are willing to meet our obligations and we are committed to implementing the road map,” said Quraya after meeting his Jordanian counterpart Faisal al-Fayez.

“But we also want the US to pressure the Israeli government to stop its violations, including (building) the segregation wall and the settlements,” Quraya said.

Quraya (L) told US envoy William Burns the wall had to stop 

Quraya (L) told US envoy William Burns the wall had to stop 

“There is nothing to stop the United States from playing its role because it has huge interests in the region,” Quraya said.

He was speaking before talks with Jordan’s King Abd Allah, who is due to visit Washington this week. Palestinian and Jordanian officials say the king will convey a message from the new Palestinian cabinet to the US administration.

Senior US envoy William Burns reiterated US concerns about the apartheid wall, which cuts deep into occupied West Bank land, after meeting Fayez on Sunday.

A recent US decision to cut loan guarantees to Israel over the barrier signalled renewed interest from Washington, preoccupied for much of the year with Iraq.

Quraya arrived in Amman on Saturday to seek Jordanian help in pressing Israel to revive a peace “road map”, backed by the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia. Implementation of the plan has stalled amid an upsurge in bloodshed.

Work continues apace on the wall

Work continues apace on the wall

“We believe there is a chance to steer the peace process back on track. We also believe killing the peace plan, or the concept of a Palestinian state, is a direct threat to Jordan’s national security,” Jordanian Foreign Minister Marwan al-Muasher told reporters on Sunday.

Jordan, a US ally in the Middle East, believes the Quartet’s road map, which envisages a Palestinian state by 2005, is the best solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Burns was due to hold talks with Sharon in Jerusalem later on Sunday, Israel Radio said.

Quraya has been battling to persuade Palestinian factions to agree to a lasting ceasefire, more than three years after the beginning of the Intifada, the Palestinian uprising, which has claimed more than 3600 lives.

Source : News Agencies

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