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Israeli Officials Plan Protection Fences, Roadblocks, Ditches Are Included In New Security Plans

By Marjorie Miller

Los Angeles Times

Jerusalem

Israeli security chiefs presented plans to the government Tuesday to surround Jerusalem with fences, roadblocks, ditches and foot patrols to prevent more of the Palestinian suicide bombings that have wreaked havoc in the city in recent weeks.

The National Security Council’s plan, known as “Enveloping Jerusalem,” also calls for checkpoints and electronic surveillance between West and East Jerusalem that critics say will in effect repartition the contested city without ensuring Israeli security.

The government denies that there will be any physical or de facto division of Jerusalem between Jewish and Palestinian neighborhoods, but it acknowledges that movement into, out of and around the city would be more difficult under the plan.

“The concept is to put an obstacle on the road of those who are trying to penetrate the city for terrorist activities. But a wall inside the city, that’s nonsense,” said Raanan Gissin, a spokesman for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. “It will not be easy for the Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, nor for the Jewish population. Everyone will have to contend with the new measures.”

Police and security officials reportedly had proposed fences or walls to divide parts of Jerusalem. But for Sharon and right-wing members of his government, a wall would signal a willingness by Israel to cede part of the city to the Palestinians and would symbolize a return to pre-1967 borders, before Israel captured East Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan.

Palestinian officials denounced the Jerusalem plan, saying that the city’s security problems cannot be solved with more checkpoints and border patrols.

“It is a long, open border, and the ones who do these operations inside Israel know all the ways and means to get in,” said Ziad abu Ziad, the Palestinian Authority minister responsible for Jerusalem affairs. “This will not help. What will help everybody is to find a solution to the conflict.”

The Jerusalem security plan was drafted months ago but shelved until a bombing Sunday on downtown Jaffa Street that left 2 people dead. It was the second attack on Jaffa Street in six days and the seventh in central Jerusalem in less than 15 months.