U.S. Wants More Changes in Fence Route, May Trim Loans

(Reuters/Ha'aretz) - The White House pressed Israel on Thursday to make additional changes to its planned barrier fence through the West Bank and appeared to be leaning toward making small deductions from a $9 billion package of loan guarantees. Sources close to the deliberations said deductions for the fence were likely, though they would be small in size and come from loan installments in future years. "They have made some adjustments (to the fence) that I think have helped a lot...and we'll see what other adjustments they might be able to make," said U.S. national security adviser Condoleezza Rice. Rice said the fence "continues to be a problem" because of U.S. concerns it "somehow prejudges" future peace talks and could "infringe...on the lives of ordinary Palestinians." "But the issue of how this relates - one way or another - to loan guarantees...at this particular point is premature," she added. Several of Bush's senior advisers favor making deductions for construction of the fence. But that could anger Israel's staunch supporters in Congress, including some of Bush's closest Republican allies. Under U.S. law, the State Department must deduct from the guarantees, on a dollar-for-dollar basis, sums that are spent "for activities which the president determines are inconsistent with the objectives and understandings reached between the United States and the government of Israel." Israel says it is building the fence to prevent Palestinian militants from entering Israeli territory and launching attacks.

2003-11-14 00:00:00

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