PLO: Israeli ‘Bloody Provocation’ Sabotages Talks
PLO Insists on Full Palestinian Security Control in Gaza, Bethlehem
Israeli ‘Bloody Provocation’ Aims at Sabotaging National Dialogue
The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) reconfirmed that the withdrawal of the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) from the Gaza Strip and Bethlehem-- as a first step towards a full Israeli withdrawal from reoccupied Palestinian territory-- “must be completed without hurdles and preconditions and in a way that secures full Palestinian security control” in both areas.
The full IOF withdrawal should also be accompanied by “a complete stop to all forms of (Israeli military) aggression, including the assassination” of Palestinian activists, the PLO executive committee said in a statement reported by the official Palestinian news agency WAFA on Monday, following a meeting chaired by President Yasser Arafat at his battered headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
The PLO said that the Israeli policy of assassinations and arrests aims at obstructing the implementation of the “roadmap” and “sabotaging by bloody provocation the Palestine National Authority’s (PNA) efforts to lead the national dialogue to a successful conclusion.”
“The PLO condemns the (Israeli) ongoing policy of assassinations and arrests,” which “confirms the plans of (Israeli Prime Minister Ariel) Sharon’s government to obstruct the implementation of the roadmap and its insistence on 14 points to change it,” the statement said.
Israeli and Palestinian security officials on Monday met again to discuss a phased handover of security control in some reoccupied areas.
Palestinian Minister of State for Security Affairs Mohammad Dahlan and Gaza public security chief Abdelrazeq al-Majeida took part in a meeting with the Israeli coordinator of the IOF activities in the occupied territory General Amos Gilad at Biet Hanoun (Erez) crossing point between the Gaza Strip and Israel.
No official statement was released after the meeting, but a Palestinian official said the meeting was “serious,” adding that the Palestinian side was now waiting for Israeli answers to its demands.
The fresh security talks – the third officially-confirmed meeting between the two sides—follow Sunday night’s meeting with US envoy John Wolf over the details of a possible Israeli pullout from areas in the Gaza Strip and the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem.
The IOF reoccupied most of the West Bank in the spring of 2002 and has subsequently reoccupied the northern part as well as other areas in the Gaza Strip.
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer on Monday announced that US President George W. Bush’s national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, will travel to the Middle East this weekend to meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, to build on Bush’s first joint summit with Israeli and Palestinian leaders in Aqaba, Jordan, earlier this month, as well as a subsequent visit to the region by US Secretary of State Colin Powell.
“She will travel to the Middle East over the weekend to talk to the parties on the progress moving forward on the post-Aqaba work,” Fleischer said.
In Aqaba both Palestinian and Israeli premiers Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) and Ariel Sharon declared their commitment to the internationally-adopted and US-backed “roadmap” peace plan.
The PLO’s executive committee on Monday “stressed the importance of the parallel and unconditional implementation of Israeli obligations according to the roadmap, and to a strict and fixed timetable.”
The PLO also renewed its call for providing effective international monitoring on the ground.
“The executive committee stresses the importance of providing effective international monitoring on the ground for the implementation of all stages of the roadmap, in particular the Israeli withdrawal to the lines of 28 September 2000 and the complete stop of settlement (activity),” the PLO’s statement said.
The statement blasted Israel’s misleading propaganda on the dismantling of settlement outposts.
“The Israeli government continues its fabrications and misleading propaganda, despite Sharon’s call to proceed with settlement activity, but quietly, in order to avert international reaction, which unmasks the true Israeli propaganda.”
The IOF replaced the dismantling of only one vacant settler outpost of caravans by the erection of at least nine new outposts, according to the Israeli Peace Now settlement watch group.
In a related development the PLO leaders condemned the building of the segregation wall (the so-called security wall by Israel) as “the most dangerous stage” in the Israeli expansion of settlements.
Referring to the Israeli confiscation of vast areas along the Jordan Valley in the eastern West Bank as an extension of the segregation wall Israel is now building along the eastern side of the 4 June 1967 Green Line, the PLO said:
“This is the most dangerous stage of the (Israeli) plan to set up the system of cantons and the expanding (Jewish) settlement” on Palestinian land occupied in 1967, “which is a proof that Sharon’s government intends to go ahead with its expansionist settlement war in order to prevent the creation of an independent Palestinian state.”
Moreover, the PLO urged Palestinian national and Islamic factions to deprive Israel of pretexts to continue its reoccupation.
“The executive committee welcomes the continued national dialogue among all factions to reach a unified Palestinian policy in order to deprive the Israeli government of pretexts for its maneuvers,” the statement said.
Palestinian security chief Dahlan said on Sunday that the Palestine National Authority (PNA) was expecting a positive response from opposition factions very soon, adding that no more dialogue sessions were planned.
Palestinian media reports expected the national and Islamic factions to present a “truce initiative” to Egypt on Tuesday.
Informed Palestinian sources told the Ramallah-based Al-Ayyam daily that “representatives of Fatah, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad were about to finish drawing up a truce initiative, which is expected to be presented to the Arab Republic of Egypt within 24 hours, and to be officially declared within days.”
The issue of Palestinian detainees in IOF prisons has always topped the agenda of Palestinian groups.
“The executive committee calls paying intensified attention to the issue of detainees; it is necessary to release them without conditions,” the PLO statement said.
The PLO executives also urged an immediate end to the siege imposed by the IOF on President Arafat.
“The executive committee strongly refuses the ongoing siege imposed on President Yasser Arafat, calls for ending this siege immediately and condemns this continuing Israeli terrorist practice, which violates all (signed) agreements and constitutes an aggression against the leadership of the Palestinian people and their national symbol.”