Israel dismantles strech of barrier ahead of Hague hearings
An eight-kilometer stretch of the so-called separation barrier east of Baqa al-Sharqiyeh will be dismantled Sunday, a day before the International Court of Justice in The Hague opens hearings into the "legality" of the project.
Meanwhile, another barrier, to the west of the town, will remain in place, an Israeli ministry official said Friday. Israel will open a gate to "allow" passage to its sister town in Israel, Baqa al-Gharbiyeh, the official added.
Defense Ministry Director-General Major General (res.) Amos Yaron said Saturday that Israel never intended to annex Baqa al-Sharqiyeh, which is home to thousands of Palestinians. The fence was built east of the town due to "security needs" that have subsequently been resolved, Yaron added.
He added that the decision to dismantle the section of the fence was made a long time ago, and that it had "no connection" to the fence deliberations at The Hague.
However, Army Radio on Saturday quoted Israeli sources as saying that the move "is definitely connected to the opening of discussions [Monday] about the fence at the International Court of Justice in The Hague."
On his part, Israel's Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom told Army Radio Sunday that Israel will continue building the fence regardless of the ICJ deliberations.
He described the construction of the fence as a "security move, intended to prevent the terror attacks we have been experiencing for the past three years." "On second thoughts, it is possible that we should have done it at a different time," Shalom added. (Albawaba.com)
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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