(AFP) – Jul 4, 2012
JERUSALEM — Israel will resume construction of its controversial West Bank barrier within the next few weeks after a five-year delay, public radio reported on Thursday, citing an army officer.
Israeli radio reported that Colonel Ofer Hindi, the officer responsible for the barrier, delivered details of the plans to resume construction work in a session before the Supreme Court on Wednesday.
Hindi told the court that work will initially resume around the group of settlements near Bethlehem known as Gush Etzion.
The following year, work will resume around Maale Adumim, a settlement east of Jerusalem that is one of the biggest in the West Bank.
Construction work on the barrier has been on hold for around five years because of "budget problems" and multiple legal appeals filed by Palestinians, public radio said.
Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot said international pressure over the route of the barrier, which cuts into the West Bank, had also contributed to its suspension and that renewed criticism was expected once work resumed.
The Israeli military referred queries to the defence ministry, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Israel began work on the barrier in 2002 during the height of the second intifada, and has defended the necessity of its construction, pointing to a drop in attacks as proof of its success.
The Palestinians says the barrier is a land grab, pointing out that when complete, 85 percent of it will have been built inside the West Bank.
In 2004, the International Court of Justice issued a non-binding resolution calling for those parts of the barrier inside the West Bank to be torn down and for further construction in the territory to cease.
Israel has not complied with the ICJ ruling.
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