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Arab League Secretary-General Criticizes Israeli Fence - 2002-06-17

Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa is sharply criticizing Israel for building a fence that Israel says is intended to contain would-be Palestinian suicide bombers.

"Racism against defenseless people," is how Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa described the Israeli project to construct a high-tech security fence to separate the West Bank from Israel and Jerusalem.

Mr. Moussa compared the fence with the Berlin Wall that divided the German capital from 1961 to 1989. Mr. Moussa said Israel "is reinforcing its occupation of the Palestinian territories and the separation between the societies."

Construction on the first stretch of the fence began Sunday. Officials say it is intended to block would-be suicide bombers from crossing into Israel.

Mr. Moussa, speaking in Cairo, said the fence "reminds us of practices the world never accepted before."

The Arab League chief called for a "redoubling of efforts to put an end to the occupation, to dismantle existing settlements instead of constructing walls of separation."

The network of high-tech barriers is expected to cover about 350 kilometers, roughly along Israel's eastern border before it seized the West Bank during the 1967 Middle East war.