UN Official Says Israel Must Halt Construction of 'Segregation' Wall

Saturday, June 14 2003

"'By the end of July, 12,000 Palestinians in 15 villages could find
themselves wedged between the wall and the Green Line .. a further
138,000 Palestinians in 16 localities could be surrounded on three
sides by the wall ..'"

NEW YORK (United Nations) - A senior United Nations official has
stressed that Israel should halt the construction of a unilateral
separation wall it is currently building east of the "Green Line"
because of the devastating humanitarian impact it is having on the
Palestinian people and on the peace process itself.

"Suspending construction of the wall would contribute to the overall
effort to improve security and humanitarian conditions and restart
the political process," Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs
Kieran Prendergast told the Security Council on Friday.

Israel claims that the wall is aimed at preventing the entry of
Palestinians to Israel in a bid to stop suicide bombings inside the
green line. However, Israel has altered the route of the wall so that
it encroaches several illegal settlements in the West Bank, making it
almost impossible on the ground for a contiguous, Palestinian state
to be established.

The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) has repeatedly slammed the
plan as another Israeli step aimed at creating a new status quo (by
annexing more Palestinian land) in the occupied Palestinian territory
and destroying the "roadmap"a peace blueprint for solving the
Mideast conflict put forward by the diplomatic "Quartet" of
negotiators from the US, EU, Russia and the UN.

Israel has announced that it will effectively sandwich the West Bank
with two walls, one east of the green line and another wall along the
Jordan Valley, east of the West Bank, which together, Palestinians
say, will turn the West Bank into the world's largest prison.

Prendergast noted that work began before the "roadmap" to peace was
accepted by the Israelis and Palestinians.

"While understanding the dilemma that Israel faces in deciding how to
protect itself from terrorist attacks, nevertheless, in light of
developments since construction on the wall began, we believe that
work on the wall should be halted," AP quoted Prendergast as saying.

The 600-km long, 8-meter high wall, which has already annexed
thousands of dunums of Palestine's most fertile agricultural land,
would render about 95,000 Palestinians on the "wrong" side of the
wall, totally isolated from the majority of Palestinians living on
the other side of the barrier, a study by the EU, US, World Bank and
International Monetary Fund has shown.

"It potentially separates tens of thousands of Palestinians from
their agricultural lands, wells, markets, schools, health clinics and
hospitals," Prendergast said.

"By the end of July, 12,000 Palestinians in 15 villages could find
themselves wedged between the wall and the Green Line," he said. "A
further 138,000 Palestinians in 16 localities could be surrounded on
three sides by the wall."

The green line was the borderline between the West Bank (which was
under Jordanian rule) and Israel prior to the 1967 war.

The UN official meanwhile stressed that the wall would clearly
obstruct international community efforts aimed at reviving the peace
process, since it is being built east of the green line and not on
it, as Israel claims.

"It could easily be seen as jeopardizing the territorial contiguity
of a Palestinian state and thereby inhibiting the establishment of a
Palestinian state," he said.

-[Palestine Media Center (http://www.palestine-pmc.com/).] Published
at the (http://www.palestine-pmc.com/)