Sharon firm on West Bank barrier despite US threats
( 2003-10-17 15:56) (Agencies)
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said in
remarks published on Friday that Israel would complete a controversial West Bank
barrier despite the risk of U.S. cuts in $9 billion in loan guarantees approved
"I myself might tell the Americans that although we won't be happy about it,
if you decide to remove money, then do it. We need to build a fence in places
where we know it is integral for Israel's security," Sharon said in a Jerusalem
Israel's key ally Washington has voiced misgivings about the barrier,
stretches of fence and concrete barricades that mostly run along the boundary
between the West Bank and Israel but also loop in places to encircle Jewish
settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.
The United States has said it will deduct part of the cost of the barriers
from loan guarantees important to Israel's struggling economy, but has not yet
decided how large the deduction will be.
It has said it will also cut the loan guarantees to show U.S. displeasure
with Israel's continuing building of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and
Israel says the barrier is needed to keep out suicide bombers who have killed
hundreds of its citizens since the Palestinian uprising for independence began
three years ago.
The Palestinians call the project a land grab that prejudges final borders to
be decided under any future peace accord.