Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has given final approval to extending the security barrier in the Jerusalem area to include Ma’ale Adumim, the biggest Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria. This means that areas of disputed territory in the Jerusalem and Bethlehem area will effectively be annexed to Israel, as part of Sharon’s strategy to strengthen settlement blocs in the Biblical heartland. “Does anyone have even the slightest doubt that Ma’ale Adumim is an integral part of Israel?" Vice Premier Ehud Olmert said on Israel Radio. Under the plan, this portion of the fence will be completed by the end of the year. Only a third of the entire barrier has been completed because Palestinian legal challenges have slowed construction.