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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Israel Gov't: Status of Palestinian villages outside fence not up for review

Last update - 00:38 30/11/2006

Gov't: Status of Palestinian villages outside fence not up for review

By Gideon Alon and Jonathan Lis, Haaretz Correspondents

The government has no plans to change the status of nine Palestinian villages
located within the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem but outside of the
separation fence, despite the fact that it does not provide these communities
with vital services and that residents of the towns must cross through
roadblocks daily.

Minister without portfolio Yaakov Edri (Kadima) related the government's
position on Wednesday during a session of the Knesset plenum, in response to a
question raised by Meretz Chairman Yossi Beilin.

Beilin asked if the government planned to announce an official withdrawal from
the nine neighborhoods for which it does not provide services. He also asked
if the government was preparing to give an official stance regarding the
division of Jerusalem as a result of the fence built in the middle of the

In response, Edri said, "The fence is a means of security, to prevent the
entrance of attackers into Israel - it has no political significance."

He said that the government had reached its decision regarding the
neighborhoods last July, agreeing that the security closure would be lifted
only once arrangements have been made to give services to the Jerusalem
residents remaining outside the fence.

Haaretz revealed last week that an absence of police officers in these
neighborhoods has led to an increase in crime and drug-dealing. Also,
thousands of schoolchildren who live beyond the fence are forced to pass
through roadblocks every morning to get to school, according to a report by
several members of the Jerusalem association of community councils and
centers, who are founding a community council for the area neighborhoods.

The report also found that the Jerusalem municipality only removes garbage
from some of the neighborhoods outside the separation fence; that some roads
there have no streetlamps; that no new hospitals have been established in the
area; that there are too few well-baby clinics or facilities for the elderly
and not a single playground.

The Jerusalem envelope community council, whose establishment has received
government approval, plans to attempt to resolve some of these problems in the
nine villages and neighborhoods it represents.

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