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Report: Israeli official says disputed parts of fence on hold (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Nathan Guttman and Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondents, Haaretz Service and Agencies 08/08/03 07:15 (GMT+3) Source: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/326766.html
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In light of American concerns about segments of the barrier it is building to separate itself from the West Bank, Israel has agreed not to construct those segments until it reaches a compromise with the Bush administration, Friday´s New York Times quoted a senior Israeli official as saying.
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The official said the Bush administration did not object in principle to the barrier but did express "a great deal of concern" about what he described as very limited portions, particularly the planned branch around the settlement of Ariel.
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"They believe that the same security production can be achieved by a different route," he said. "On this particular portion of the fence we are working now to try to find some solutions."
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U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell on Thursday told reporters in Washington that the administration had identified planned parts of the barrier that may cause problems and will raise the issue with the government.
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The secretary of state said that the United States understood Israel´s desire to build the fence to protect its security but said that when it crossed the Green Line border with the West Bank it posed a problem.
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"All of us put fences up when we feel a need for a fence on our property," he said. "We try to do it in a way that does not prejudice anyone else´s property or anyone else´s rights.
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"It´s when the fence begins to intrude on land that is not on the Israeli side of the Green Line, or starts to intrude in a way that makes it more difficult for us to make the case for a viable Palestinian state, or starts to cut off certain towns and villages or... interfere with... activity in Palestinian towns and villages, then is it appropriate for us to say to our Israeli friends, ´Look, we have a problem here,´" he added.
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"And that´s what we´re doing. We have identified some problems with the subsequent stages of the fence, what´s going on, and we´re going to be discussing those problems with them," Powell said.
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He pointed out that the administration had not yet reached a decision about deducting the cost of the fence from U.S. loan guarantees for Israel.
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Powell also said Thursday that the cease-fire declared by Palestinian militant groups was not enough and that the Palestinian Authority must make a determined effort against terror organizations.
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"We need to see a more concerted effort against the capacity for terrorist activity on the Palestinian side," Powell said. "It´s not enough just to have a cease-fire."
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Powell, however, noted that progress has been made in reducing attacks against Israelis.
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"We have seen the level of terror and violence go down significantly, and there can be no dispute about that," he said. But a ceasefire by three Palestinian groups could end "any day" and might provide cover for the militants to improve their capabilities or test new weapons, he said.
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Powell also noted other progress made on the road map, which outlines a series of steps both sides must take toward peace and calls for the creation of a Palestinian state by 2005. He pointed to the Israeli withdrawals from the Gaza Strip and Bethlehem.
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"But we need to see a lot more," he added.
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Powell´s statements come a few days after a New York Times report that the U.S. would not demand at this stage that the Palestinians dismantle the terror infrastructure or that the PA directly confront Hamas and Islamic Jihad, following assessments that the Palestinian security forces are still too weak to take immediate action against terror groups.
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Palestinian sources: PMs likely to meet next week
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Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is likely to meet with his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas next week, according to Palestinian sources, Israel Radio reported Thursday.
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Abbas was in Saudi Arabia on Thursday, as part of his tour of the Persian Gulf.
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IDF opens two roads to Palestinian traffic The Israel Defense Forces on Thursday opened to Palestinian traffic two West Bank roads west of Jenin. One road runs between Jenin and the village of Yabed - which was closed for two-and-a-half years - while the other runs between Jenin and the village of Tura al-Arabya. Several thousand Palestinians live in the villages in the area.
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In recent weeks, the army has opened several
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West Bank roads as moves intended to improve conditions for Palestinian residents as required by the U.S.-backed road map peace plan. (© Copyright 2003 Haaretz. 08/08/03)
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