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Israel's Sharon Denounces World Court Proceedings - 2004-02-24

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon says his country will not give in to what he calls the hypocrisy being perpetrated against Israel at the World Court in The Hague. The prime minister lashed out at the proceedings currently underway at the court over the legality of the barrier Israel is building in and around the West Bank.

Prime Minister Sharon said the proceedings before the International Court of Justice seek to deny Israel the fundamental right to defend itself. He vowed Israel would not surrender and would continue to build the security barrier in and around the West Bank.

In an interview published Tuesday in the Israeli newspaper, Yedioth Ahronot, the prime minister remained defiant as the court hearings in The Hague entered their second day.

On Monday, the Palestinian representative made an impassioned plea against Israel's barrier, saying it violates international law, is meant to perpetuate Israel's occupation of Palestinian land and makes a future Palestinian state impossible.

Israel says the barrier is needed for security to keep out suicide bombers and stop terror attacks.

Just a day before the court proceedings began, a Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up on a crowded bus in Jerusalem, killing eight people and injuring dozens more.

Israeli officials said the attack demonstrated the need to complete the barrier. Palestinians argue the barrier will only breed more hatred and will not stop militant attacks against Israel.

Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia did condemn the attack, especially the timing of it.

That apparently outraged Mr. Sharon, who accused the Palestinians of being concerned only about their case at The Hague. In the Yedioth Ahronot interview he called Mr. Qureia's government one of lies and murder. Mr. Sharon said Israel would never be able to reach an agreement with such a government.

Senior aides to Mr. Sharon and Mr. Qureia were scheduled to meet to try to arrange a long overdue summit between the two prime ministers. But, Israel called off the preparatory meeting in protest over Sunday's bomb attack.