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Israeli Bridge Would Take 5 Years

June 20, 1999

JERUSALEM (AP) _ Incoming Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s proposal to construct an elevated highway between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank could cost $2 billion and take years to build, a newspaper reported Sunday.

Palestinians are pressing Barak, who unseated hard-liner Benjamin Netanyahu in elections last month, to implement interim peace agreements _ including a safe passage for Palestinians between the two territories.

Barak wants to keep unauthorized Palestinians from entering Israel and proposed the elevated 29-mile highway last week as a solution.

The daily Yediot Ahronot quoted the Finance Ministry as saying the bridge would cost $2 billion and take five years to build.

Palestinian leaders said Israelis will have to allow Palestinians to use roads until the bridge is built.

``We will not wait until the bridge is built for our safe passage,″ said Nabil Shaath, the Palestinian Planning Minister.

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