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Egypt Insists Israel Raze Security Barrier - 2003-10-22

Egypt, the first Arab country to make peace with Israel, says Israel must comply with a United Nations resolution to tear down the security barrier it is building in the West Bank. Mr. Ahmed Maher, Egypt's Foreign Minister, said he will take up the issue with visiting Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Egypt's Foreign Minister, Ahmed Maher says the international community should pressure Israel into complying with the U.N. non-binding resolution demanding that Israel "stop and reverse" the construction of a security barrier in the West Bank.

"Whether the resolution is binding or not binding, it does indicate resolve of the international community and its rejection of Israeli policies," said Mr. Maher. "I think this should be followed by actions by the countries who have voted for the resolution to make sure that Israel stops its actions in the occupied territories and particularly the building of this wall."

The U.N. General Assembly approved the resolution by a 144-4 vote. Among the countries which opposed the resolution were the United States and Israel, which says it needs the barrier for security reasons. The Israeli government said it would press on with the barrier.

Mr. Maher said that even countries that had opposed the U.N. resolution should put pressure on Israel to dismantle the barrier.

"The United States and the quartet and the whole international community has come out with the support for a Palestinian state, so I believe that it is incumbent upon those who have voted this resolution and even those who have not voted this resolution, but are committed to the 'road map' and to the creation of a Palestinian state living side by side along with Israel, to follow up on this resolution and to take a closer look at what Israel's actions are," he said.

Mr. Maher said his government will deliver this message to Secretary of State Colin Powell who is on a brief visit to Egypt.