Jerusalem (AsiaNews/Agencies) With construction expected to be completed by the end of the year, the Israeli government confirmed today that the security wall it is building around the West Bank will encompass East Jerusalem, Maaleh Adumim (the West Bank's main Jewish settlement) and Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem.
Palestinians have warned that the decision to unilaterally fix the border could jeopardise peace talks. "This is a policy of dictation and not negotiation," said Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat.
The route of the barrier goes around Maaleh Adumim (30,000 residents), which is almost ten kilometres east of Jerusalem.
"Does anyone have even the slightest doubt that Maaleh Adumim is an integral part of Israel?" said Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
Despite this controversy over the wall, Israel has agreed to hand over control of the West Bank town of Jericho to Palestinian officials on Wednesday, to be followed two or three days later by Tulkarem. Ramallah, Bethlehem and Qalqilya are also set to be returned to Palestinian police control in the near future.
In the meantime, an intra-Palestinian summit is taking place in Cairo (Egypt). Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is hoping to get Palestinian factions and militant groups to agree to a truce with Israel.
Support among Palestinians for terrorist violence in pursuit of Palestinian statehood has dropped sharply in recent months, according to a poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research published yesterday. Only 29 per cent of respondents approved of last month's bombing in Tel Aviv that killed five Israelis, compared to 77 per cent who supported an August bus bombing that killed 16 Israelis in the town of Beersheba. (LF)