Fri Sep 23, 2005 5:39 am Palestinian leader says Gaza withdrawal not enough - Reuters
Palestinian leader says Gaza withdrawal not enough
By Evelyn Leopold
September 22, 2005
UNITED NATIONS, Sept 22 (Reuters) - Palestinian Foreign Minister Nasser al-Kidwa told the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday that Israel's withdrawal of troops from the Gaza Strip was still a far cry from a comprehensive peace pact.
He said that Israel's intentions in the West Bank caused "us to be even more pessimistic," and demanded a halt to the construction of the separation barrier, the expansion of settlements and the seizing of land "that was isolating and destroying the livelihood of tens of thousands of Palestinians."
"All of this will determine whether the disengagement will take us further steps forward, closer to a comprehensive settlement and peace -- or whether it is actually a step imposed by the realities on the ground and intended to facilitate the continuation of the occupation," Kidwa said.
Kidwa, who had spent more than a decade as the chief U.N. Palestinian representative, said he recognized that Israel's withdrawal of troops and settlers from Gaza required "political boldness" but that the Jewish state still controlled the territory's airspace, borders and waters.
"In general, Israel's occupation and colonization of the Gaza Strip constitutes one of the worst injustices in recent history," Kidwa said.
"Israel, the occupying power, has left the Gaza Strip completely devastated," he said, destroying the territory's infrastructure, economic capabilities, social fabric and the Palestinian Authority's security apparatus and leaving piles of rubble behind in razing the settlements.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon came to the United Nations last week amid praise for his pullout from Gaza, which has sparked hopes that peacemaking with the Palestinians could be revived. Since then Israeli officials have held talks with officials from Islamic nations Indonesia, Pakistan, Tunisia and Qatar, among others.
The withdrawal after 38 years marked the first evacuation of Jewish settlements from land Palestinians want for a state.
But Kidwa said that "Israel and some of its friends" were using the pullout to impose "illegal conditions" on the ground and undermine the formation of a Palestinian state.
For its part, the Palestinian Authority was taking steps to to impose law and order and organize elections, Kidwa said, but Israel had to stop attempts "to interfere in and sabotage these elections."
On Tuesday, the "Quartet" of international advisers urged the Palestinian Authority to start dismantling armed militias before a parliamentary election in January.
But the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations stopped short of backing Israeli demands the militant group Hamas be barred from the poll unless it disarms and amends a charter calling for Israel's destruction.
Kidwa said the Palestinians were prepared to return to negotiations and implement the road map, a peace plan drafted by the Quartet and to begin "final status negotiations immediately."
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The palestinians' own words betray the idea that they are prepared to implement the road map.
Abbas has said time and time again that he has no intention of disarming terrorist groups - which he refers to as "brothers" and has no intention of removing the terrorist infrastructure. As this is the major requirement of the palestinians according to the road map and as he has stated his rejection of that requirement, then the road map is effectively dead. I ask any supporter of the palestinians how else to interrupt his words. In fact, Abbas scolds others - the Quartet, the US, etc., to keep their noses out of palestinian business.
Therefore, why even discuss negotiations if the framework of those negotiations has already been rejected by one of the parties?
The fact is that Abbas and the PA are on the brink of extinction. To negotiate with Abbas is to enter agreements with a mannequin. And the real power - those gangs with guns - will never agree to any deal that they understand to conflict with the "rights" of the palestinian people which can be translated as "no rights" for the Jewish people.
The response to palestinians is to demand of them to clean up their own house. If they cannot then there will never be any negotiations. Abbas brings nothing to the table except the suit he wears. When he passes we will see what the future will bring.