PM: Fence to include Ariel, Ma'aleh Adumim, Gush Etzion bloc
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on Wednesday decided that Ariel, Ma'aleh Adumin and the Gush Etzion settlement bloc would be included inside the West Bank separation fence, while the route of the other segments would be built close to the Green Line.
The defense establishment was instructed to find a route that would include the three settlement blocs while taking into consideration the Palestinian population.
Sharon also said that the government will be asked to approve the revised route of the fence, once the defense establishment has finished its work on the recommendations of the High Court on the issue.
The prime minister spoke during a meeting called in order to present Sharon and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz with a totally revised route for the stretch between Elkana and the Judean Desert.
Also present at the meeting were Israel Defense Forces chief Moshe Ya'alon, Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, Shin Bet security services director Avi Dichter and other senior defense and judicial officials.
Mofaz during the meeting said the fence should be moved two kilometers east from the houses of Rosh Ha'ayin, which border the Green Line, in order to provide security for its residents.
The revision follows a June ruling by the High Court of Justice to reroute the fence closer to the 1967 Green Line border, in order to reduce the harm to Palestinian residents in the area where the barrier was to be constructed.
According to the new plan, the fence will overlap the Green Line along the stretch from Elkana to Jerusalem, and will deviate from this route in just a few places, such as where there are settlements close to the 1967 border and the Latrun enclave.
On the "Israeli" side of the fence will be the settlements of Modi'in Illit, Mevo Horon and Har Adar, as well as the Palestinian village of Beit Iksa, which is located on the approach to Jerusalem.
Last month, Colonel (res.) Danny Terza, the head administrator in the Defense Ministry overseeing construction of the fence, announced that the Defense Ministry expects to complete the portion of the fence from Jerusalem to Elkana by 2005, one year after originally scheduled.
Terza also told the Knesset's Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee that a considerable section of Highway 443 between Jerusalem and Modi'in will remain outside the separation fence in light of the June court ruling.
According to Terza, defense officials are preparing to install protective counter-terrorist measures for this segment of the highway, which connects Beit Horon and the Maccabim roadblock. Terza also said that the army will install 12 openings in the fence, one every 5 kilometers, in line with the court's ruling.
The changes are expected to cost an additional NIS 25 to 35 million. Terza said that 100 kilometers of the fence's 200-km route will veer into the territories, while the other half will stay inside or along the Green Line.