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Israeli Prime Minister Orders Building of Barrier to Continue - 2004-07-11


Israel's prime minister, Ariel Sharon, has ordered construction to continue on the West Bank security barrier, despite a World Court ruling declaring the project illegal. The court's advisory opinion had been requested by the U.N. General Assembly. Mr. Sharon said the court's decision encouraged Sunday's Palestinian bombing in Tel Aviv that killed at least one person and wounded 20 others.

Mr. Sharon issued his instructions on the West Bank security barrier after meeting with senior government ministers and officials to discuss Friday's ruling by the International Court of Justice at The Hague.

He said construction of the barrier would continue, in line with a recent ruling from Israel's Supreme Court that called for changes to the route to ease the hardship caused to some Palestinians.

At the same time, Mr. Sharon made it clear that Israel, totally rejects the decision of the world court at The Hague. He described it as a one-sided decision based only on political considerations.

Mr. Sharon said the Palestinian bombing of a bus station in Tel Aviv on Sunday morning was, as he put it, the first murderous act to have occurred to the credit of the decision of the World Court.

His strong stance was echoed by his deputy prime minister, Ehud Olmert. "The war against terror continues, and it does not stop, and we have to carry on this war and make every possible effort to stop it, including the defensive fence, which is a very important measure in order to reduce the level of activities by the terrorists," he said.

Israel's justice minister, Yosef Lapid, also accused the World Court of taking a biased position against the Jewish state. "The terror attack is the proper answer to the unjust decision of the court," he said. "If they had to deal themselves with this kind of terror and murder, probably the decision would have been different."

The Israeli government's backing of the project is in line with public opinion. Surveys shows a large majority of citizens in Israel want the security barrier to be built, despite international opinion against the project.

Mr. Sharon said in a statement on Sunday that he would fight using all diplomatic and legal means against the world court's decision.

Israel has already turned to the United States for help in blocking Palestinian attempts in the United Nations to force Israel to comply with the ruling.

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