28 July 2004
Israel's military has drawn up a new route for the controversial West Bank security barrier to comply with a ruling by the country's Supreme Court. The changes are in line with the court's decision that the barrier should not cause undue hardship to Palestinians. Israel's Defense Ministry says the changes would bring a 40-kilometer stretch of the project, northwest of Jerusalem, closer to Israel's border with the West Bank.
The proposal follows a decision last month against the current route by Israel's Supreme Court.
Israel's Defense Minister, Shaul Mofaz, says the changes are aimed at complying with the court's ruling and addressing what he calls problems connected to the living conditions of Palestinians.
Palestinian Minister for Negotiations Saeb Erekat says any new route will be opposed unless Israel agrees to move the barrier entirely out of the West Bank.
He says that Israel should erect the barrier only along or on its side of the so-called Green Line, which delineates the West Bank from Israel.
The Palestinian Authority says that the real motivation behind the project is Israel's desire to seize more territory.
Israel denies the claim and says that the only purpose of the barrier is to stop Palestinians entering the Jewish State from the West Bank to carry out terrorist attacks.
Several Israeli military commanders, speaking on condition of anonymity, told reporters they are against the proposed new route.
The commanders say the changes will bring the barrier to within 300 meters of several Jerusalem neighborhoods, making them extremely vulnerable to a Palestinian terror attack.
The proposed new route is to be presented to a committee headed by Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, which will make a final decision on the matter.