US inclined to accept Palestinian view regarding fence as Abbas arrives in Washington

Published July 24th, 2003 - 02:00 GMT

A "misunderstanding" is developing between the Bush administration and Israel over the construction of the so-called "separation fence" between Israel and the West Bank, Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said Thursday.  


"A misunderstanding is developing with the Americans on this fence because of ignorance of the specifics of this project," Shalom said from Washington, where he met US Secretary of State Colin Powell on Wednesday.  


"The Palestinians have launched an extensive opinion campaign against this fence to make believe it will harm their interests, create facts on the ground and will risk torpedoing the peace process," Shalom told Israel's Army Radio.  


"Quite the contrary, this fence is aimed at preventing terrorist attacks and attempts to torpedo the peace process," he added.  


The planned fence, which will ultimately run the entire 350kms around the West Bank, is one of the steps the Israeli government is taking supposedly to stop Palestinian suicide bombers. The Israelis will have control in regulating who goes in and who leaves, in a similar way to the Gaza Strip, which, since during the recent uprising, effectively has been a prison for more than 3 million Palestinians who live there.  


The Palestinian dismiss the Israeli arguments and believe instead that the fence is another excuse for expropriating Palestinian lands in order to create a new de facto border.  


Meanwhile, the Palestinian prime minister Mahmud Abbas arrived in Washington for a meeting Friday with US President George W. Bush at the White House.  


This is Abbas' first official visit to the United States since he was appointed prime minister in April. Accompanying Abbas on his historic visit were his minister of foreign affairs Nabil Shaath, minister of state for security affairs Mohammad Dahlan, and Palestinian parliament speaker Ahmad Qorei.  


Palestinian minister of finance Salam Fayad will join the Abbas delegation on Friday. ( 

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