INTERNATIONAL

Israel sounds defiant on wall

MANAMA Oct. 22. Israel has decided to continue construction of a controversial separation wall, despite the negative vote in the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday. Israel has been building a 336-km security barrier allegedly to keep out Palestinian suicide bombers. Israel's Deputy Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, told Israel radio that, "the fence will continue being built and we will go on taking care of the security of Israel's citizens''.

Referring to the U.N. vote, Mr. Olmert said the Israeli Government would defy what he described as "the dictates of an automatic, hostile, inconsiderate and misguided (U.N.) majority that always acts against Israel.''

Refuting the Israeli assertion, the Palestinians have maintained that the security fence was a thinly veiled excuse to grab Palestinian land prior to negotiations to settle the final borders of Israel and a future State of Palestine.

Palestinian leaders have been pointing out that they are not opposed to the construction of an Israeli security fence per se, provided it is built on Israeli territory alone.

They stress that the security barrier, 130 km of which has already been constructed, deviates substantially from the `Green Line', the alignment that separates Israel from the Palestinian areas. By straying from the Green Line, the wall covers many Israeli settlements that have been illegally positioned inside the Palestinian territories.

The Palestinian Prime Minister, Ahmed Queri, told reporters on Monday that the security wall was "a new invention, a new form of confiscating land and trying to unilaterally draw the border. Jerusalem has been completely isolated from Bethlehem and Ramallah by this fence," he said.

According to analysts, the Israeli right wing Government's decision on the controversial alignment of the barrier has been considerably influenced by the pressure from the powerful "settlers lobby", that is part of the Likud coalition.

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