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Sharon: Palestinians Have Themselves to Blame for Security Barrier - 2004-01-11

Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, says that Palestinians have only themselves to blame for the building a security barrier in and around the West Bank. He says the barrier is the direct result of Palestinian terrorism, as the Palestinian Prime Minister, Ahmed Qureia, called the project an obstacle to peace.

Mr. Sharon told a news conference in Jerusalem on Sunday that the security barrier is a logical response by Israel which has the right to defend itself. He said the project would probably never have been initiated were it not for the fact that Palestinians had launched a campaign of suicide bombings and other terror attacks against Israelis. "I want to tell you, you know who built the fence. Terror built the fence. If not for the terror, maybe we would not have done it at all," he said.

Mr. Sharon's comments came after his Palestinian counterpart, Ahmed Qureia, toured a section of the barrier near the West Bank town of Qalqilya. The town is now largely enclosed by the structure.

Mr. Qureia told reporters at the site that the barrier is, his words, "a racist separation wall" that will turn areas of the West Bank into a series of cantons.

And this, he said, is totally unacceptable to the Palestinian leadership. "It's a discrimination. It's a real violation [of human rights]. It will give not keep any opportunity to keep President Bush's vision for two states. If this will continue, its [the peace process is] finished," he said.

He called on the international community to put pressure on Israel to halt the project and warned time is running out for the two sides to reach a negotiated settlement of their conflict.