European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana slammed Israel for the Wall Israel is building around and through Jerusalem.
The 60-kilometer section of the wall is half built. Two days ago the Israeli government a final route that will cut off four Arab neighborhoods, home to 55,000 Palestinians, from their city while at the same time adding some 30,000 Jewish West Bank settlers to Jerusalem.
Solana, who came to the region to meet with Palestinian and Israeli leaders, expressed the EUÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s opposition to the Jerusalem segment of the wall because it cuts through the West Bank, which is the same reason the EU has objected to the wall as a whole.
‘We think that Israel has the right to defend itself, but we think that the fence, which will stand outside the territory of Israel, is not legally proper, and it creates also humanitarian problems,’ Solana told reporters in Jerusalem.
He said the Jerusalem fence would also have a symbolic effect, as the city is holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims.
Meanwhile, an Israeli official admitted that the newly approved route of the wall aims to increase the Jewish population in Jerusalem and reduce the Palestinian presence there.
Contradicting government statements that the wall is solely a temporary security measure, Minister Haim Ramon (Labor) said Monday that the Jerusalem route is meant to ensure a Jewish majority in the Jerusalem as well as to keep out terrorists.
‘I want to point out that in Jerusalem alone close to 250 people have been murdered during the Intifada, most of them in suicide attacks,’ Ramon told Israel Radio.Ã‚Â ‘The fence was born, first and foremost, to prevent them from continuing to murder us.’ He added, though,Ã‚Â that the wall ‘also makes [Jerusalem] more Jewish.’
On the other hand, Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmad Qurei responded harshly to the Israeli cabinet decision on the Jerusalem wall, calling it ‘theft in broad daylight’ of land Palestinians seek for the capital of their future state.Ã‚Â
‘This decision makes a farce of any talk about peace and turns the Gaza withdrawal into a useless initiative,’ he added
Meanwhile, Palestinian Foreign Minister Nasser al-Kidweh called for stepped-up protests against construction of the barrier.