Barrier construction to be accelerated
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has ordered construction of Israel’s controversial security barrier in Judea and Samaria to be speeded up, especially around Jerusalem. Israel has been building the barrier for two years, but only a third of the 425-mile (700-km.) long structure has been completed. Work has been slowed by Israel's Supreme Court, which has ruled that the fence illegally confiscates disputed land and imposes hardship on Palestinians. That has infuriated many Israelis, who accuse the court of siding with the Palestinians at the expense of Israeli security. "And the more they take decisions in this direction, the more Israelis will question the wisdom of the Supreme Court," said Israeli security analyst Dan Schueftan. So by ordering rapid construction of the barrier, Sharon is responding to public opinion. He hopes to overcome the legal obstacles by rerouting the barrier in problematic areas.