Photo: Reuters
Fence near Jerusalem
Photo: Reuters

Government OK's modified fence route

About seven percent of West Bank to come within new security barrier route


JERUSALEM - Government ministers have approved the modified route of the West Bank security fence by an overwhelming 20-1 majority.


Minister Yisrael Katz was the only one to vote against the proposal, while Minister Natan Sharansky abstained in the vote.


The modified route would turn motorists on Highway 443 connecting Modiin to Jerusalem into sitting ducks, General Security Chief Avi Dichter warned during the session.


"There are no means of protection on the road," he said.


Such reality would be unacceptable, said Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in response to Dichter's warnings.


"It's unthinkable that a major road to Jerusalem would not be included in the security considerations related to the fence," he said.


Minister concerned about weapons smuggling


Minister Yisrael Katz, the only minister to object to the new route, said it marks a "drastic change" compared to the original route.


"In the south of Mount Hebron there is a very large area that is outside the fence…which allows for weapons smuggling," he said.


Katz said he was also concerned about Highway 443, which he says was completely taken out of the fence despite recommendations to build it to the north of the road, thus preventing shooting attacks by terrorists coming from the town of Ramallah.


About seven percent of West Bank territory would come within the new route, as opposed to 16 percent under the earlier proposal. The fence is now slated to include the settlement bloc of Gush Etzion, as well as the town of Maaleh Adumim, and Mount Hebron.


The barrier's original route was modified in light of High Court of Justice rulings, as well as an unfavorable decision on the matter by the International Court of Justice at The Hague.


IDF Deputy Chief-of-Staff Dan Halutz presented the new route to the government before the vote.


'New route optimal'


The new route's approval did not come as a surprise, after Labor party cabinet ministers decided Thursday to vote in favor of the proposal.


Minister Haim Ramon said the new route “is much closer to our views and positions, because the fence annexes only 6-7 percent of the West Bank areas.”


The modified route approved by the government is optimal, National Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said before Sunday's vote.


פרסום ראשון: 02.20.05, 19:06
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