NEW YORK (JTA) — Israel has no intention of dismantling the West Bank security fence, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.
The Israeli leader called the fence "a critical component of Israel’s security" and told Knesset lawmakers Wednesday that it "will remain in place and will not be dismantled."
Reports in the Israeli media Wednesday had indicated that the Palestinian Authority had relayed a demand to President Obama that the fence be removed because the West Bank security situation had improved.
Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat told Reuters he had approached the United States on the issue.
"The Israelis know that the wall adds to the complexities," he said. "It’s part of the problem and not part of the solution."
Netanyahu told Knesset lawmakers that the fence should be credited with restoring security and preventing the entry of Palestinian suicide bombers into Israeli towns, and thus it should stay.
"I hear they are saying today that because it’s quiet, it’s possible to take down the fence. My friends, the opposite is true… It’s quiet because a fence exists."
In his speech, Netanyahu said Israel welcomed "a certain improvement in the functioning of Palestinian security forces" in the West Bank. But he added: "The fence is important."
Opposition lawmakers had summoned Netanyahu to the parliament with a query requiring him to provide explanations for his diplomatic and economic policies.