The United States has deemed that Israel's security
fence does not protect the Jewish state and plans to impose
sanctions in connection with the project.
U.S. officials said a State Department team that examined the fence has
dismissed the Israeli argument that the fence is required to protect the
country from surface-to-missile attacks against civilian airliners that land
and take off from Ben-Gurion Airport.
Israel plans to establish a fence that
penetrates up to 20 kilometers within the West Bank as part of a plan to
protect against shoulder-fired missiles by Palestinian insurgents, Middle East Newsline reported.
But the U.S. team determined that Israel could protect against SAM
attack without the construction of the fence and barrier system. The team
cited unmanned air vehicles and ground forces patrols that do not restrict
the movement of 15,000 Palestinians from villages that will be surrounded by
the proposed fence.
Officials said the determination of the U.S. team has led to a State
Department decision to deduct funds from the $9 billion in loan guarantees
approved by the Bush administration. The amount of the funds has not been
determined, officials said, but could exceed $1 billion.
A decision was expected over the next week during the visit by Israeli
Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, officials said. They said the
administration could deduct $1.4 billion from the loan guarantees in
connection with Israeli settlement activities that do not include the
"The president doesn't really believe there needs to be a fence, and
number two, if they want to talk about a fence, they should do it in a way
that does not infringe upon the lives of the Palestinian people or try in
some way to prejudge the outcome of a final status agreement," State
Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli said on Tuesday. "We have made the
decision to deduct money for guaranteeing loans based on Israeli settlement
activity, but the precise amount of that deduction has not been determined
Israel has completed about one-third of an estimated 600-kilometer
security fence. The United States has voiced objections to the proposed
route of the barrier from the West Bank city of Kalkilya east past the
Israeli communities of Ariel and Emanuel and then south.
Officials said the administration has relayed to Congress the U.S.
decision to deduct funds from the loan guarantees. They said the issue of
the fence will be raised during the visit by Israeli Defense Minister Shaul
Mofaz to Washington next week.