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March 23, 2003

Separation wall moves east

To include Ariel and 40,000 settlers

Aluf Benn in Ha'aretz reports
The defense establishment has recommended moving the separation fence east of several West Bank settlements, so that some 40,000 settlers and some 3,000 Palestinians are included in the western, Israeli side of the fence.

The fence's new alignment is to be presented to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in the next few days and senior defense sources said it will not determine the political border. The sources noted that after the withdrawal from Lebanon, Israel had to move the northern border fence in places where it deviated from the international border.

The Defense Ministry has completed two alignments of the fence - a western one parallel to the seam line and an eastern one, severing Palestinian population concentrations in the West Bank from the Jordan Valley.

Sharon spoke of the importance of the eastern fence on a tour with cabinet ministers along the seam line last week, but so far only the western fence has been planned in detail and budgeted. The new fence would run east of the settlements Kedumim, Immanuel and Ariel. MORE