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Palestine Doubts Sharon Will Dismantle Settlements

Palestinian Officials: Sharon’s Willingness to Dismantle Settlements is Misleading

RAMALLAH, Palestine - Palestinian officials Saturday underestimated the recent Israeli Prime Minister statements regarding the dismantling of Jewish settlements, saying these statements were misleading and intended at pre-empting current political developments.

Sa’eb Eriqat, the Minister of Negotiations Affairs, was quoted as saying “such statements by Sharon are merely public relations moves as moving forward requires actual implementation of the Road Map peace plan.”

As well, Mr. Azzam Al-Ahmad, Minister of Communication and Information Technology, told Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper yesterday that ”Sharon’s remarks are nothing but propaganda on both the domestic and international levels, meant only to pre-empt the latest UN Security Council Resolution considering the Road Map peace plan as the basis for a potential Palestinian-Israeli peaceful settlement.”

Al-Ahmad went onto saying that Sharom’s statements came after the Israeli Chief of Staff, Moshe Ya’alon, had criticized Sharon’s policy in the occupied Palestinian territories, asking him to allow Palestinian premier Ahmad Qurei' to succeed unlike his predecessor, Mahmoud Abbas.

Meanwhile, Mr. Ghassan Alkhateeb, Minister of Labor, viewed the remarks as merely "public relations maneuver," stressing that they would not believe Sharon unless his statements come true.

The Israeli Channel 2 TV reported Friday overnight that Israeli Prime Minster Ariel Sharon plans to dismantle some Jewish settlements by summer 2004 "to allow the establishment of a Palestinian state."

A source in Sharon’s office confirmed that the report was true, but claimed that the matter is concerned with settlements in Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmad Qurei' and his Israeli counterpart are likely to meet soon to discuss possible return to the negotiation table, sources revealed.


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