Hours after Mubarak-Mofaz meeting, Sharon says Israeli troops will not remain in one inch in Gaza
Palestine-Israel, Politics, 3/12/2005
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Israel wants to fully withdraw from the Gaza Strip and has no interest in having troops there.
Sharon's statements came hours after meeting held in Sharm el-Sheikh between president- Hosni Mubarak and Israeli Defenses Minister Shaul Mofaz.
In an interview with the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine published yesterday, Sharon said Israel also wants the Gaza Strip to be an open area and that is why his country has agreed at last month's Sharm el-Sheikh summit that the Palestinians rebuild the Strip's seaport and airport.
He said Israel wants to eventually withdraw from the Philadelphia passage, so relations with the Palestinians could develop steadily, albeit slowly.
Israel is ready to make "painful concessions" with the objective of establishing a genuine peace, he said, noting, however, that such concessions could not be made, not now nor in the future, if the security of Israel and the Israelis was in any way compromised as a result.
He pointed out that the return to the roadmap plan required that the Palestinian authority (PA) stop what he called terrorism and hatred and reform its internal institutions, especially its security agencies.
Sharon made it clear that PA President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) would be judged in accordance with his actions. Meanwhile, the Palestinian resistance movement of Hamas said yesterday it would be very difficult to maintain the cool-off period while Israel continues its aggression on the Palestinian people.
Mahmoud Al-Zahar, a prominent member of Hamas, said the movement's commitment to ease down period will not be "eternal."
On the other hand, the movement's spokesman Sami Abu-Zahri said that on Thursday evening, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas conferred with Mahmoud al-Zahar on Israel's reluctance to deliver on its promises and on its excesses. Hamas said clearly it would be difficult to declare a truce with Israel, according to the spokesman. The movement also called for exercising pressure on Israel to release the Palestinian detainees and prisoners, he added.
He said no arrangements were made to permit Hamas leaders in the West Bank and Gaza to take part in the coming round of inter-Palestinian dialogue in Cairo.
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