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PNA blasts Sharon for settlements comment


Abed Rabbo Blasts Sharon’s Advice to ‘Proceed Quietly’ with Settlement Building

The Palestine National Authority (PNA) on Monday blasted Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s “advice” to his cabinet ministers to “proceed quietly” with the illegal construction of Jewish settlements in occupied Palestinian territory as a “political scandal.”

“It is a political scandal that unmasks the true intentions of the Israeli Prime Minister” who “lies to media and in the speeches he delivers at international conferences to mislead public opinion” while “revealing his original and real stances towards the peace process” behind the closed doors of the Israeli decision-making meetings, PNA Minister of Cabinet Affairs Yasser Abed Rabbo said in a press release Monday.

Sharon on Sunday told his Cabinet that settlement construction in the West Bank and Gaza Strip should “proceed quietly,” a senior cabinet official quoted the prime minister as saying.

Israel TV’s Channel 1 said Sharon told the ministers that settlement building “isn’t part of the roadmap, it’s my personal commitment.”

Under the internationally - adopted peace plan, Israel should remove dozens of settlement outposts that were not authorized by the Israeli government and would have to observe the building ban in settlements authorized by the government, in the coming months.

Sharon’s adviser Raanan Gissin said Israel would continue construction in built-up areas of settlements. Asked about the required freeze, he noted that the Cabinet, in voting on the plan, attached objections.

“The Israeli Prime Minister does not only lie to world public opinion, but he lectures his cabinet ministers on how to master lying,” Abed Rabbo said.

Abed Rabbo called on the US and all the other members of the international Quartet of Middle East peace mediators “to firmly face up to Sharon’s true intentions, which threaten the roadmap peace plan by deeds, not by words.”

The PNA cabinet affairs minister reminded the Quartet members that the “roadmap” stipulates clearly a “freeze on all forms of settlement activity” and urged them to put an end to Israeli misleading announcements on removing what they term as “illegal outposts” while they allow “moving these so-called outposts from one place to another, and beefing up the established settlements with thousands of new settlement units,” he added.

Sharon announced in the Jordanian city port of Aqaba more than two weeks ago that Israel has agreed to dismantle settlements built without government authorization as part of its obligations under the “roadmap” peace plan.

However the council of illegal Jewish settlers (Yesha) has set up more than 10 new “illegal” West Bank outposts since Sharon promised US President George W. Bush and Palestinian PM Mahmoud Abbas to dismantle over one hundred similar outposts at the Aqaba summit meeting.

The Israeli Peace Now’s Settlement Watch group said last week that seven new outposts have been erected during the last two weeks.

The Israeli officials label as “illegal” those settlements that were built without authorization by the Israeli government.

Israeli polls show a majority of Israelis willing to give them up in a final peace settlement, Reuters reported on Saturday.

All Jewish settlements in occupied Palestinian territory, both authorized and unauthorized by Israeli governments, are considered illegitimate and illegal by the international community.

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