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Sharon Approves 66-Mile Fence to Divide Israel, West Bank.

By Meredith Buel (VOA-Jerusalem)

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has approved construction of a fence between Israel and the West Bank to help stop Palestinian militants from crossing into the Jewish state. Israeli officials said the fence will run about 66 miles from a point northeast of Tel Aviv to south of the port city of Haifa, running roughly parallel to the Mediterranean Sea.

For most of the distance the fence will run along the currently unmarked frontier, known as the Green Line, that separates Israel from the West Bank. At some points along Israel's narrow coastal strip the country is only about nine miles wide. The fence is meant to separate the Palestinian-ruled towns of Jenin, Tulkarm and Qalqilya from nearby Israeli cities. A Sharon spokesman, Rannan Gissin, said the fence "is part of a series of measures to stop suicide bombers from getting into Israel."

Sharon reportedly was reluctant to approve construction of the fence because many of his supporters, including Jewish settlers in the West Bank, see it as a first step in giving up parts of the Palestinian territories, which they claim for security and religious reasons.

Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, who drafted the barrier plan, said he supported building a fence along the entire frontier and maintaining an Israeli military presence in parts of the West Bank until both sides negotiate a permanent peace agreement. The fence reportedly will take about one year to build and will cost about $1.6 million per mile.

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Title Annotation:Ariel Sharon, Israel Prime Minister
Comment:Sharon Approves 66-Mile Fence to Divide Israel, West Bank.(Ariel Sharon, Israel Prime Minister)(Brief Article)
Publication:Israel Faxx
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:7ISRA
Date:Jun 6, 2002
Words:249
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