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Last Updated: Monday, 11 July, 2005, 16:42 GMT 17:42 UK
Barrier demos to be 'stepped up'
A protest at the site of barrier near Jerusalem
Protests have begun against the barrier around Jerusalem
Palestinian foreign minister Nasser al-Kidwa has called for increased protests against the West Bank barrier.

Mr Kidwa was marking the first anniversary of a UN World Court advisory ruling urging that construction of the barrier be halted.

Israeli minister for Jerusalem Haim Ramon admitted for the first time that the barrier helped ensure a Jewish majority in the city.

Israel has previously said the barrier was built solely for security reasons.

The Israeli government approved the final route of the barrier around Jerusalem on Sunday.

The route will separate at least 55,000 Palestinians from hospitals and schools in the city, whilst including some 30,000 Jewish settlers in the West Bank inside the Jerusalem area.

Violence

Mr Kidwa urged Palestinians to organise a "higher level of daily confrontations against the wall".

Violence has erupted at a number of protests against the wall since construction began and the Israeli security forces have shot and killed a number of Palestinians.

Mr Ramon made his remarks during an interview with Israel Radio when he admitted that the barrier not only made the city safer but "also makes it more Jewish".
The whole idea is to get as many Palestinian outside Jerusalem, and get as many Israelis as possible inside
Saeb Erekat
Palestinian negotiator
The barrier cuts off Palestinian areas like Shuafat and Qalandia that were included in the previous municipal borders of the city.

"The government did well in determining the fence route without including Shuafat and Qalandia in Jerusalem," Mr Ramon said.

"I don't think anybody is sorry about this", he added.

Israel has always maintained the barrier is necessary to stop attacks by Palestinian suicide bombers.

'Catastrophe'

The interview may confirm the fears of many Palestinians who believe that the barrier in the Jerusalem area is really aimed at creating a demographically Jewish Jerusalem ahead of final status negotiations on the city.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat described the barrier as a "catastrophe" for the Palestinians.

"The whole idea is to get as many Palestinian outside Jerusalem, and get as many Israelis as possible inside."

International criticism of the barrier also came from EU Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana and the Arab League.

Mr Solana described the barrier as "raising humanitarian problems for Palestinians" after a meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom.

Palestinians and the United Nations say the barrier causes great hardship to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians across the West Bank, cutting them off from hospitals, schools and jobs.

Israel has occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, since 1967.


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