- The Washington Times - Friday, September 7, 2001

JERUSALEM Israel is planning to create no-go areas along its border with the West Bank, where Palestinians could be arrested for summary trial or shot for breaking the nighttime curfew.
The plan, intended to stop Palestinian militants entering Israel, follows a spate of car bombs and suicide killings in Jerusalem and other cities.
But it also would stop thousands of Palestinians going to jobs, worsening their unemployment rate of 38 percent.
The buffer zone was approved by the Israeli security Cabinet in June and kept secret because of political and military implications. A hostile Palestinian reaction is inevitable.
The Israeli military planned to announce the outlines of the plan on Wednesday, but Prime Minister Ariel Sharon called off a briefing at the last minute.
Mr. Sharon, who returned from a visit to Moscow yesterday, indicated that he had merely ordered a delay, saying the "process was meant to happen in the future."
Israel, meanwhile, continued to hunt and kill Palestinian militants.
Helicopter gunships fired missiles at a car in the West Bank town of Tulkarm, aiming to kill Raed Karmi, the local commander of the armed wing of the Fatah movement headed by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
Two minor activists traveling with him were killed, but Mr. Karmi leapt from the car and was only slightly hurt. It was the third time in two weeks that an attempted Israeli assassination had failed.
The Israeli army said Mr. Karmi was responsible for the killings of six Israelis in the past 11 months and was planning more attacks.
Palestinians described Israel's killings as "murder in cold blood" and said they were designed to derail a European attempt to organize a meeting between Mr. Arafat and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres.
Nabil Shaath, the Palestinian minister for international cooperation, said, "It is a continuation of the crimes conducted or ordered by Sharon in order to foil any new attempt to reach a peaceful settlement."
The planned buffer zone, described by Israeli officials on condition of anonymity, is likely to further sour relations with the Palestinian Authority because it would break agreements dividing the West Bank into areas of Israeli and Palestinian civil and security control.
The plan would require areas east of the border to be declared closed military zones. Only residents or farmers would be allowed in by daylight, and only if they had passes. In the curfew at night, army restrictions on opening fire would be relaxed.
The zone's width would vary from two miles in open areas to a few hundred yards in developed areas.
Ever since Palestinians focused on suicide attacks and car bombs in Israel, demands for an electronic fence to seal Israel from Palestinian territories have increased.
Such a plan, however, would be seen as negating three decades of Israeli settlement in occupied territories, making it all but impossible for the Israeli right to endorse. Israeli settlers in Palestinian territories would be on the wrong side and their dream of expanding borders would be lost.
The buffer zone plan is a compromise, avoiding a permanent fence while trying to stop Palestinians entering by back roads and fields.


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