(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert this morning (Tuesday, 7 February 2006) toured the security fence in the greater Jerusalem and Gush Etzion areas. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, Internal Security Minister Gideon Ezra, Minister Tzahi Hanegbi, who is responsible for Jerusalem affairs, IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz, and other senior officials accompanied tour.

Acting Prime Minister Olmert began the tour at the Aminadav overlook, where he said: “This tour is designed give a direct impression of the area and the major effort we are making to complete the fence in these areas, and to see what are the main outstanding problems.  This year, we will make a great effort to complete the fence as quickly as possible, including in the area before us.  The fence in the greater Jerusalem area will be under police responsibility.  The fence is security and its goal is to effectively thwart attempted terrorist attacks.  I am especially disturbed regarding the issue of the greater Jerusalem area; this area will be given top priority.  Even though this is a security fence, my instructions are that Gush Etzion and Maaleh Adumim will be an inseparable part of the State of Israel in any future developments.”

The acting prime minister and those accompanying him then toured the Jaba area and were briefed by security officials and Gush Etzion Regional Council Chairman Shaul Goldstein.

They then went to the Rachel crossing, where Acting PM Olmert inspected the crossing and terminal facilities.  Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski and senior Israel Police and Border Police officers were present.

The acting prime minister and his entourage then toured the route of the fence in the greater Jerusalem area to the Zeitim crossing, where they viewed the area toward Maaleh Adumim.