Israel approves final barrier route
JERUSALEM: Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has approved the final route of a barrier around Jerusalem that will include the largest Jewish settlement in the West Bank on the Israeli side, officials said Monday, prompting Palestinian complaints that Israel is endangering fledgling peace efforts.
The decision means the barrier will encompass lands claimed by the Palestinians for a future state, including traditionally Arab east Jerusalem, the intended Palestinian capital. The barrier will also include a chunk of the Palestinian town of Bethlehem, south of Jerusalem, to include a Jewish shrine, officials said. Israel began building a separation barrier in the West Bank two years ago, saying its aim was to keep out Palestinian attackers. Palestinians say Israel could have built the barrier on its territory if the only concern was security. They say the real intention was to grab West Bank land and draw a final border without waiting for a peace deal. One-third of the barrier has been completed.
In the West Bank city of Ramallah, UN Secretary-General Kofi said after a meeting with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas that the United Nations is establishing a register of damages to Palestinian property and claims against Israel resulting from the barrier construction.
“We are establishing that register to be able in time to help with those claims,” he said. ap