- Israel's decision to press ahead with a barrier that
will separate 55,000 Palestinian residents of Jerusalem from the rest of
the city has provoked a storm of criticism, prompting the Palestinian Prime
Minister to state that the fence will make "a farce" of Ariel
Sharon's peace talks with the Palestinian Authority.
- The European Union's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana,
arriving for talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, said yesterday:
"We think that Israel has the right to defend itself, but we think
the fence which will stand outside the territory of Israel is not legally
proper and it creates also humanitarian problems." The Palestinian
Prime Minister, Ahmad Qureia, said the move was "theft in broad daylight"
of land Palestinians hope will form part of their future capital.
- Israel claims it needs the fence for security reasons.
The barrier, which is due to be completed by 1 September, will cut off
around one-fifth of Jerusalem's Palestinian residents, most of themin areas
annexed to the city after the 1967 war. Israeli authorities have guaranteed
crossing points to ease movement. But following Sunday's announcement that
the fence will be constructed by the autumn, there was anger among Jerusalem's
- Fatimah al Toush, a 44-year-old mother of four lives
in Kufr Aqab, a village on the city's northern fringe. She has an Israeli
identity card; her husband has a West Bank one. She travels daily to work
as a secretary in Arab east Jerusalem. Her 14-year-old son, Firas, goes
to a Christian school there, though he too is registered as a West Bank
resident. Treatment for her chronic back problem is paid for by her Israeli
- "If they build the wall," she agonised yesterday,
"how will I be sure of getting to my office? Shall I climb the wall?
How will Firas get to school? I can't put him in a West Bank school. All
his friends are in Jerusalem. He feels he belongs with them." Mrs
al Toush said she knew 30 or 40 families in her village who faced similar
dilemmas. She worried that eventually Israel would cancel her health insurance.
- "Maybe," she sighed, "one day I'll burn
my Israeli identity card, but the Palestinian Authority won't give me one
of theirs. They want to encourage people to stay in Jerusalem."
- Ribhi Shehadeh, a 52-year-old father of 14, faces the
problem from the other side of the barrier. He lives in a two-storey stone
house in Ras Hamis on the rim of a rocky valley between the cramped Shuafat
refugee camp and the high-rise flats of Pisgat Ze'ev, a Jewish suburb built
on land captured from Jordan in the Six-Day War. The wall will run down
the middle, though both the camp and the suburb will remain in Jerusalem.
- Mr Shehadeh gave up his job as a driver in the building
trade after he developed diabetes. To feed his family, he grows vegetables
on a plot in front of his house and keeps a flock of 30 sheep.
- "The wall will suffocate us," he protested
over thick Turkish coffee beneath the grapes on his terrace. "I won't
be able to graze my sheep in the wadi. Arab building workers won't be able
to get to Pisgat Ze'ev."
- The Israeli government has allocated a 2005 budget of
eight million shekels (£1m) to maintain services for Arab residents
affected by the fence.
- © 2005 Independent News & Media (UK) Ltd.