Israel to re-route West Bank barrier

Israel’s Cabinet today voted to modify the route of its contentious West Bank separation barrier to put thousands of Palestinians on the ”Palestinian” side of the enclosure, officials said.

The Palestinians, who live in the area of the Jewish settlement of Ariel, were slated in the original proposal to be included on the “Israeli” side of the barrier, officials said.

Interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said recently he wants the barrier concluded by the end of the year.

Olmert decided last week to erect a temporary security barrier around Jerusalem to enclose Israelis in areas where the permanent barrier has not yet been completed.

Israeli left-wing organisations accused him of trying to bypass the Supreme Court, where dozens of Palestinian petitions against the barrier are pending.

Israel says the separation barrier, which dips into the West Bank at several points, is meant to provide security by preventing suicide bombers from entering the country. Palestinians call it a land grab.

The barrier will stretch 460 miles when it is completed. Thus far, Israel has constructed about 230 miles.

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