Construction of a 40-kilometer stretch of the West Bank security barrier near Gush Etzion has halted due to budgetary considerations, according to an internal Defense Ministry document obtained by Army Radio on Wednesday.

Also mentioned in the document are legal challenges in the High Court of Justice that the ministry faces in completing the barrier. The petitions to the court say the barrier’s route requires the expropriation of privately owned Palestinian land, according to the report.

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The defense minister’s spokesman responded to the report by saying that the “fence building project continues and will be continued.”

He added, “Various types of changes are [being] made to the project, some due to planning problems, some due to budgetary problems and some due to legal problems.”

According to the document, construction on the barrier in the area in question will continue in 2012, Army Radio reported.

While MK Danny Danon (Likud) called for the Knesset Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee to immediately discuss why construction was frozen, other lawmakers praised the freeze and called continued construction “a waste of money.”

Among those critical of continued construction were MKs Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) and David Rotem (Israel Beiteinu), who said building the barrier is a way of escaping the responsibility to truly deal with terrorism.

Criticizing the decision to freeze construction, Maj.-Gen.

(res.) Uzi Dayan, who was named this month to head the Mifal Hapayis national lottery, warned that the freeze could lead to more terrorism.

From the Left, the criticism focused on whether, if such delays were considered acceptable by the security establishment, the barrier was needed, and asking why the fence was not being built on the Green Line.

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