Monday, February 09, 2004

Route change

Israel is altering the route of the West Bank security fence in an effort to secure a US blessing:

Israel intends to shorten the route of its West Bank barrier, cutting out most of the loops around Jewish settlements in a bid to secure U.S. support for the controversial project, political sources said Sunday.

[...]

Israeli political sources said the revised route would be presented to U.S. officials visiting Israel this week to hear about a plan by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to separate unilaterally from the Palestinians if the now-stalled road map plan fails.

The International Court of Justice in The Hague is to hold hearings on the legality of the barrier this month. And Israel's Supreme Court was scheduled to hear arguments today by an Israeli human rights group against the project.

"A ruling against Israel in The Hague would likely end up as a vote in the U.N. Security Council," a source in Sharon's office said. "We need to make sure the Americans back us, hence the effort to agree with them on the route now."

According to the source, the new draft route excludes most West Bank settlement blocs. The Haaretz newspaper quoted Sharon's chief of staff, Dov Weisglass, as saying he believed the final route would be 375 miles long, 63 miles shorter than the original approved by the government.


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