Despite Claim That U.S. Would Drop Fence Objections If Israel Leaves Gaza, U.S. Again Criticizes Fence
June 17, 2004

NEW YORK- Despite claims by Gaza retreat supporters that the Bush administration would accept Israel’s security fence if the Gaza withdrawal plan was passed, the administration has again publicly criticized the fence.

At the daily State Department press briefing on June 15, 2004, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said: “The fence is a problem … It imposes hardship on the Palestine people … The issue of the route of the Israeli fence, the barrier, has often been taken up, not just by our embassy, but in the regular exchanges that we have with Israeli officials including at high levels.” Asked if the U.S. will be “more proactive” in pressuring Israel on the issue, Boucher said: “We have been active all along and will continue to be active as we are now.”

Morton A. Klein, National President of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), said:

“One by one, all of the arguments in favor of retreating from Gaza are crumbling:

“Retreat supporters claimed that terror will end if Israel withdraws but Hamas leader Mahmoud A-Zahar announced on June 12, 2004 that despite Israel’s offer to withdraw from Gaza, ‘We will not stop our attacks until the occupation is totally ended’.

“Retreat supporters claimed that if Israel withdraws, the Palestinian Authority will take action against the terrorists but now Yasir Arafat has invited 5,000 of his Fatah Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade terrorists to become part of the official PA security forces in Gaza meaning that the ‘police’ will be the terrorists themselves.

“Retreat supporters claimed that an Israeli withdrawal would be rewarded by the U.S. halting its pressure on Israel to limit the security fence but now the Bush administration has made it clear that the pressure will continue.

“The time has come for both the Israeli and American governments to reconsider the proposal to retreat from Gaza, which would lead to the creation of a Palestinian Arab terrorist state that will endanger both Israel and American interests in the region.”

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