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Israel Pushes for Fence on Egyptian Border

Israel is considering building a fence on its border with Egypt in order to stop the passage of terrorists, smugglers, asylum-seekers and migrant workers into Israel, the daily Haaretz reported.
The idea was floated by Ra’anan Dinur, the general director of the Prime Minister’s Office, during a meeting of the Knesset Committee on Foreign Workers on Tuesday.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is considering opening negotiations with Egypt over the construction of a fence. Egypt has still not responded to the proposal.
If Israel builds the fence unilaterally, it would cost up to the equivalent of $720 million, the paper reported. But officials said it as unlikely that Cairo would agree to the idea, and a unilateral move would damage the relations between the two countries.
The idea is gaining momentum because of the increasing number of refugees from Sudan who are crossing the border from the Sinai desert seeking a safe haven in Israel.
Human rights groups are pressuring the government to do more to help Sudanese asylum seekers who are fleeing from the atrocities in Darfur, in western Sudan.
But Israel is concerned that many of the Africans entering the country are abusing the lax security on the border and are looking for better living conditions. Also, there are concerns that some of the illegal migrants could pose a security threat to Israel.
Much of the long border between Israel and Egypt is unmanned and is marked with a relatively simple construction of barbed wire.