Israel's cabinet on Wednesday approved by a large majority the route of the central section of the separation fence between Israel and the West Bank.
Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told his cabinet that it was best not to currently decide on completing a fence around the West Bank settlement of Ariel since this would almost certainly prompt opposition from Washington.
The proposed section is to run east of the Ariel settlement and the neighboring Jewish settlements, from Elkana in the north to Jerusalem in the south, but would not be connected to the main fence running near the "Green Line."
In a period of another eight months or so, the Israeli government is set to discuss the issue again with the U.S. administration, after which it will decide whether to fill in the gap.
Palestinian officials, for their part, have continuously blasted the construction of the "security fence", viewing it as a blunt obstacle to the so-called "road map" for peace.
"This [barrier] is a deliberate attempt by the Israeli government to sabotage President Bush's vision of a two-state solution, to undermine the peace process and to destroy the road map," Palestinian top negotiator Saeb Erekat said on Wednesday.
In the past, many Palestinian figures have slammed the notion of a fence, with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat condemning Israel's construction of it along its border with the West Bank as a "racist" act. "It is a sinful assault on our land, an act of racism and apartheid which we totally reject," Arafat had said. (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )