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Middle East

Volume 403: debated on Monday 14 April 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on information he has received on (a) the number of homes which have been destroyed and (b) how much land has been used as a result of the construction by Israel of the separation fence in the West Bank. [107113]

Construction of the fence has only recently begun. The Palestinian Environmental NGOs Network (PENGON) estimated in March 2003 that 100 buildings, most of them used a s stores, had been demolished as a result of fence construction. When completed the fence is expected to be 360km long. Officials from our Embassy in Tel Aviv and our Consulate in Jerusalem who have travelled to Palestinian areas affected by construction of the fence have reported that a corridor up to 40 metres wide in places has been cleared for the fence's path.The proposed path of the fence, as described in the Israeli media, would run east of the Green Line for most of its length. Approximately 10 per cent. of the entire West Bank would lie to the west of the fence. Palestinian land is being seized for fence construction, cultivated farmland is being destroyed and some towns will be separated from surrounding farmland by the fence. Current estimates indicate the northern and Jerusalem sections of the fence, approximately 215km long, will leave 290,000 Palestinians on the Israeli side of the fence. Of those, some 70,000 do not have Israeli residency permits and, as a consequence, may feel it necessary to move east of the fence in order to retain access to basic services.Our view is that, the building of the fence, and the adverse impact it will have on Palestinians living in the West Bank, is unacceptable. We have made our opposition known to the Israeli Government.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the Palestinians that the Government have accepted may have been killed illegally by the Israeli policy of targeted assassinations since 29 September 2000. [108336]

The Government do not keep a list in the form requested. But to assist I can say that B'Tselem, the Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, has made allegations that 98 Palestinians have been assassinated by the Israel Defence Forces between 29 September 2000 and 6 April 2003. A further 45 Palestinians who had no known affiliation to any militant group were also killed in these operations. B'Tselem's website (www.btselem.orR) gives further details of the Palestinians killed. Since 6 April there have been two further targeted killings carried out by the IDF resulting in the deaths of eight Palestinians, including at least four civilians.