Justice minister wants Israeli barrier re-routed
( 2004-01-05 08:46) (Agencies)
Israel's justice minister Yosef Lapid called on Sunday for the route of a controversial West Bank barrier to be reconsidered, lest it draw sanctions because it cuts into occupied land.
Yosef Lapid spoke as Arab nations pitched in with the Palestinians to prepare a case against the barrier for hearings in the International Court of Justice in the Hague, scheduled for next month at the behest of the U.N. General Assembly.
"There is a very serious risk the World Court will rule against us...and this is liable to prompt the General Assembly into imposing all sorts of sanctions against us," Lapid told Israel Radio, recounting what he told fellow ministers at Sunday's weekly cabinet meeting.
"We must review the fence's routing," Lapid said. The barrier deviates from the West Bank boundary and in places cuts deep into occupied land to enclose Jewish settlements.
Israel calls the network of fences and concrete barricades a security precaution that has already thwarted more than two dozen Palestinian suicide bombings. Palestinians call it a land grab prejudicing future borders that should be negotiated.
The project has stirred criticism worldwide -- including in Washington, the chief patron of a peace "road map" to Palestinian statehood in the West Bank and Gaza by 2005.
Under another road map commitment, Israel said it would dismantle two additional unauthorized outposts in the West Bank, bringing the number on the removal roster to six.
But with as many of 100 of the rogue hilltop settlements scattered through the West Bank, and their architects allowed 10 days to appeal, Palestinians have dismissed the eviction notices as a publicity stunt by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
The online edition of the Israeli newspaper Haaretz quoted a security official as saying on Sunday the barrier would appropriate six percent of the West Bank by completion in 2005.
Israeli government officials did not immediately comment on the report nor the remarks by Lapid, whose secularist Shinui party is a main coalition partner to Sharon's hawkish Likud.
In Amman, Jordan's Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher said Arab nations were preparing written submissions to the International Court of Justice to help it "reach a sound decision."
"Israel's building of the separation wall is the most dangerous hurdle facing the peace process which envisages a Palestinian state by 2005," Muasher told reporters.
The road map also calls on the Palestinians to dismantle militant groups -- a move they rule out as risking civil war -- and for Israel to freeze construction in the 150 settlements built with government approval on occupied land since 1967.
The international community regards the settlements as illegal. Israel disputes this.
Sharon and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz agreed on the latest evacuation orders against Havat Maon and Tal Binyamin outposts after eviction notices were served last week on four outposts built without government approval, the Defense Ministry said.
A major move against outposts could lead to confrontations with settlers and shake Sharon's ruling right-wing coalition.
Asked about the decision, a senior government official said Sharon "signed a decree to continue the dismantling of unauthorized outposts -- and that is what is going to happen."
|.contact us |.about us
|Copyright By chinadaily.com.cn. All rights reserved