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Russia: Shifts in Palestinian-Israeli Cooperation

Russian MFA Information and Press Department Commentary Regarding Positive Shifts in Palestinian-Israeli Cooperation

It is with satisfaction that we note the positive shifts in Palestinian-Israeli relations over the recent period. The government of Israel has approved a plan for the evacuation of settlements from the Gaza Strip and the northern part of the West Bank. The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) is carrying out a reform of its security structures and has intensified control in the Palestinian territories; the first large group of 500 Palestinian prisoners has been released; the return of previously deported Palestinians to their homes has begun; and bilateral security contacts have been resumed.

These are all steps in the right direction. They are being taken in execution of the agreements and understandings reached between the leaderships of Israel and the PNA at the summit in Sharm El Sheikh on February 8, 2005. We presume that the upcoming withdrawal of Israel from the Gaza Strip must be realized in the context of the Road Map and in coordination with the PNA and Egypt. And we hope that the parties will not take any actions predetermining the outcome of the negotiations on a final status for the Palestinian territories, which must resume between the parties in accordance with the Road Map.

It is important that the parties' direct contacts that have begun should assume the form of sustained and constructive cooperation and lead to the Road Map's implementation. Russia as a member of the Quartet of international mediators will aid further the achievement of this objective and the creation of conditions for a just and comprehensive Middle East settlement, more specifically in the course of the upcoming Quartet Ministerial session in London on March 1 and of an international meeting on assistance to the PNA.

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