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Israel orders barrier built faster

Israel orders barrier built faster

Source: Source: Al Jazeera

Israel's acting prime minister has ordered faster construction of the West Bank separation barrier after chairing his first government-level discussion of the project.

The decision, which followed hints by Ehud Olmert that he could set Israel's borders unilaterally should he win general elections on 28 March and should peace talks remain stalled, drew censure from Palestinians who consider the barrier a land grab.

Roughly half of the 600km (370 mile) network of fences and concrete barricades has been built, some on occupied land where Palestinians seek statehood. Several parts of the project have been held up by Palestinian appeals to Israel's Supreme Court.

Israel calls the barrier a bulwark against Palestinian bombers. A senior official said that Olmert, who assumed power after Ariel Sharon, the prime minister, suffered a stroke on 4 January, reiterated the incumbent's orders to step up construction.

An official said: "He made it very clear that the fence has to be completed as quickly as possible."

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