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Qorei: Palestinians won't accept Israeli barrier

Palestinian prime minister wouldn't oppose fence on Green Line

Ahmed Qorei
Ahmed Qorei

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JERUSALEM (CNN) -- In a newspaper interview Thursday, Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qorei said that Israel cannot build a barrier on Palestinian land and "put us in cages like chickens."

But he also said if the Israelis build the barrier on the Green Line, the 1967 border separating Israel and the Palestinian territories, he would support that action and the Palestinians would be willing to share the cost.

Israel has accelerated its construction of what it calls a security fence, saying it is intended to block terrorists from entering the country.

In what they say is an Israeli land grab, the Palestinians have said the barrier, which they call a wall, is being built on Palestinian land with planned sections that will go deep inside their territory.

"It won't help, it won't work, it will cause a tragedy," Qorei told the Israeli newspaper Maariv.

"You cannot build a fence on our land, put us in cages like chickens and hope for the best. If you want a fence, please, build it on the Green Line. In this case, we are willing to share construction costs.

"But to come and confiscate our land, build a fence on Palestinian territory, coop us inside crowded cages and then leave? We will never agree to that."

The United States has called for Israel and the Palestinians to begin implementation of the "road map" drawn up by the international quartet: Russia, the European Union, United Nations and United States.

The road map calls for the Palestinian Authority to crack down on terrorism. Qorei was unsuccessful in getting Palestinian militant groups to agree on a cease-fire last weekend at a meeting in Cairo, Egypt.

Sharon considering 'unilateral steps'

Israel says the barrier is intended to block terrorists from entering. Palestinians call it a land grab.
Israel says the barrier is intended to block terrorists from entering. Palestinians call it a land grab.

In recent days, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has said he is considering a number of "unilateral steps" -- actions Israel would take on its own without negotiating with the Palestinians.

Among those steps, Sharon has hinted, is the removal of some Jewish settlements.

Qorei said Palestinians would welcome the removal of settlements but said negotiations are the only way forward.

"If Sharon wants to remove settlements, please. We will not stop him from removing Netzarim. This is a positive step," Qorei said. "But if he wants to put up a fence and use it to annex Palestinian land, these things won't help. The conflict will continue, the fire will burn, terror will increase, nobody will benefit.

"We will not accept this, and the world will not accept it."

But Qorei said he believes negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians can succeed.

"I think that it is possible. We must return to the negotiating table immediately. We must restore trust. We must speak openly; each side knows the limits of the other and its red lines.

"I think it is possible. What good did your policy of force do you? Sharon asked for 100 days. He got three years. More than 900 days have gone by, and everything is the same. There is no alternative to negotiations."

Palestinian sources: Six killed in Israeli raid in Gaza

Meanwhile in Gaza, six Palestinians were killed and 11 others were wounded Thursday during an Israeli operation, Palestinian medical sources said.

Mohammed Zeno, a Palestinian ambulance driver, was shot while he was trying to evacuate the wounded, the sources said. He died later from his injuries, they said.

But Israeli military officials disagreed, saying Zeno was a member of the militant group Hamas and was one of the gunman who participated in the fighting.

The U.S. State Department labels Hamas as a terrorist organization. The group's military wing, Izzedine al Qassam, has admitted responsibility for terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians as well as on the Israeli military.

According to Israeli military sources, soldiers operating in the Rafah area hit an armed Palestinian after he fired on the forces with a machine gun and two anti-tank missiles.

The Israeli sources did not say if the Palestinian was killed.

Palestinian security sources said the operation is ongoing, and the Israeli force has surrounded a number of homes and has called on residents to leave.

Israeli troops in Rafah also arrested Haled Ka'adi, a wanted militant from the Islamic Jihad organization, an Israeli military spokesman said Thursday. The spokesman said Ka'adi was responsible for attacks against Israeli forces and for smuggling weapons across the nearby Egyptian border.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad is a militant group dedicated to the creation of an Islamic Palestinian state and the destruction of Israel. The U.S. State Department also considers the group to be a terrorist organization.

The Israelis discovered an assault and a mortar rifle inside Ka'adi's home before demolishing it and another nearby structure where the militant was hiding, the spokesman said. Troops also demolished a third building the army said was used for hostile activity.

The spokesman said troops came under fire during the operation and returned fire, killing three gunmen. Israeli forces left the area after the arrest.

Hours after the incursion, Palestinian medical sources said Suleiman al-Akhrass, 17, had died of a wound after he was hit by live ammunition.

In reaction, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said, "These type of actions will only will lead to further violence and will hinder the chances for a peace process."


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