Israel Defends Building of Fence

(Washington Post) Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom in Washington Wednesday defended construction of a fence that would separate Palestinian areas from Israel, saying it would help prevent terrorist attacks. He also said U.S. officials have not engaged Israel on the issue of freezing settlement activity, including what is known as natural growth. Shalom said citizens of settlements must be able to have children, build kindergartens, and provide for new construction within existing built-up areas. Israeli officials have suggested they have reached an understanding with U.S. officials that would allow for continued settlement growth in this manner. But Shalom insisted Israel will dismantle every illegal settlement outpost, including new ones that have popped up. Shalom said the Palestinians were manufacturing issues that were not in the road map, as a way of drawing attention away from their failure to crack down on the militant groups during a temporary cease-fire. "They are running a campaign all over the world" focusing on the fence and the prisoners, Shalom said. "They don't want to take this strategic decision" to attack the militants. Shalom also said that since the cease-fire went into effect June 29, Palestinian terror groups have dug more tunnels from Egypt into Gaza for weapons smuggling, manufactured more Qassam rockets, and even extended their range so they could hit Sharon's home from Gaza.

2003-07-24 00:00:00

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