Palestinian PM says barrier will kill peace talks
( 2003-12-13 09:18) (Agencies)
Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurie warned Israel Friday that a controversial barrier it is building in the West Bank would kill off a U.S.-backed "road map" peace plan.
Adding to pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, a new opinion poll showed that half of Israelis see him as untrustworthy as he considers a go-it-alone plan to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians on Israel's terms.
With the "road map" stymied by mutual mistrust, Sharon has said he may evacuate some isolated settlements and set borders along the barrier, in effect annexing occupied land where Palestinians seek statehood as envisioned by the "road map."
He says a Palestinian failure to disarm militants behind suicide attacks is pushing him toward unilateral security steps.
Palestinians say Israel cannot achieve peace by hemming them in behind what they call a new "Berlin Wall." Sharon's plan-in-the-making has also drawn criticism from Washington.
"(The barrier) will kill the (peace) process. It will kill anyone who speaks of peace. ... Now there is relative quiet. But the terror will start anew. The barrier can't prevent it," Qurie told Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel's largest daily, in an interview.
Relative calm has prevailed for weeks. But in a flare-up before dawn Friday, Palestinian gunmen wounded seven ultra-Orthodox Jews who defied Israeli military orders by praying at a shrine in the West Bank city of Nablus.
Israeli security sources said one of the Jews was critically wounded when gunmen fired at their vehicle near Joseph's Tomb, revered by Jews as the burial site of the biblical patriarch.
Israel has scaled back military strikes in Palestinian areas. Officials Friday declined to confirm an envoy's remarks that controversial track-and-kill operations against militants would now be limited to potential suicide bombers.
"We have decided to stop the targeted killings (of militant leaders) and to concentrate on what we call...the ticking bomb," Eli Shaked, Israel's ambassador to Egypt, had said Thursday.
Israel says the barrier, a swathe of razor-wire fencing, walls and trenches, is meant to keep suicide bombers out of its cities and has already thwarted 20 such attacks in two months.
But the barrier often deviates from the border well into the West Bank to incorporate Jewish settlements.
"This is not how you achieve security. This is just a way to preserve the conflict. No one in the world will accept it," Qurie said of the internationally condemned project.
Leaders of Sharon's right-wing Likud party said Wednesday Sharon had outlined a "long-term redeployment" as an alternative to a peace deal and it was accepted by most of its legislators.
In Washington, visiting Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said he and U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell shared the view that negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians should start immediately.
"We ... share the same view that the coming negotiations between us and the Palestinians should be immediately without any preconditions."
He said he expected Sharon to announce his plan shortly: "I believe that the prime minister will announce the new plans next week and (we will) leave him to do it."
But a poll published in Maariv Friday showed 50 percent of Israelis felt Sharon was unreliable, compared with 40 percent last August. Forty-seven percent see him as trustworthy now.
A Maariv poll published last week found that 55 percent of Israelis were not satisfied with Sharon's performance -- his poorest rating since his re-election in February.
The former general also increasingly suffers from perceptions by Israelis across the political spectrum that he has failed to come up with a realistic strategy for lasting peace, beyond tactics to keep the conflict on a low boil.
The new poll reported that 62 percent of Israelis believed Israel should evacuate most settlements for a permanent peace.
Tens of thousands of Hamas supporters, some of them masked, armed militants, rallied in two Gaza refugee camps Friday to mark 16 years since the Muslim militant group's founding.
Vowing new suicide bombings in Israel, organizers shouted through loudspeakers: "Our fighters will continue to blow themselves up in the depths of the Zionist entity."
|.contact us |.about us|
|Copyright By chinadaily.com.cn. All rights reserved|