PA leaders call for resumption of negotiations (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Aluf Benn, Arnon Regular and Ora Koren, Haaretz Correspondents, and Haaretz Service and the Associated Press 01/28/05 14:49 (GMT+2)
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Palestinian leaders called Friday for the resumption of negotiations
with Israel, warning that the new spirit of cooperation will not
endure due to the withdrawal from Gaza alone.
"We cannot be sub-contractors for unilateral Israeli moves," senior
Palestinian official Yasser Abed Rabbo, addressing a special session
of the World Economic Forum on the political process between Israel
and the Palestinians.
"We need a comprehensive solution that will close all the gaps," said
Abed Rabbo. "Side by side with the Gaza step, there should be a
resumption of the final status negotiations."
Addressing the assembled world business and political leaders in
Davos, Switzerland, Vice Premier Shimon Peres hailed the efforts of
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas towards ending attacks
"This is the first time someone has taken on leadership and in a few
days changed the entire atmosphere," Vice Premier Shimon Peres said
of Abbas. "All of a sudden there is a meeting of minds and moods."
But Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom told the forum the Palestinians
must do more to dismantle the infrastructure of armed groups,
otherwise fresh attacks could undermine any progress towards peace.
For his part, Abed Rabbo said the dream of a new partnership could be
destroyed if Israel continues expanding West Bank settlements and
building the West Bank separation fence.
"With what is currently going on on the ground, building the wall
around the Palestinian populated areas and the expansion of the
settlements, I´m afraid my dream will be lost," he said.
Vice Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered to start immediate talks with
the PA on handing over control of the Erez industrial zone on the
Israel-Gaza border, which he said could be the nucleus of an
independent Gaza economy.
But Palestinian Finance Minister Salam Fayad cautioned: "Important
though it is, economic development is no substitute for a credible,
durable progress on the political track."
Peres, Fayad agree on upgrading fence crossings Peres and Fayad met
separately Friday, and agreed on the need to implement a plan to
upgrade the crossings between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Israel plans to upgrade the crossings in the separation fence, in
order to reduce the friction between Israel Defense Forces soldiers
and Palestinian residents, and to ease the passage of people and
Between three and five large and modernized terminals will be built
along the fence, equipped with new technologies for inspecting
persons and goods, allowing a larger volume of goods to pass through
and a speedier processing time than at present.
The plan calls for the construction of an additional 40-60 smaller
checkpoints, which will include ´back-to-back´ platforms for
conveying cargo between trucks on either side.
Peres told Fayad that Israel has reached understandings with the
World Bank, which will provide financial assistance for the program.
Peres and Fayad also discussed the transport of goods from the Gaza
Strip to Ashdod, the encouragement of international investment in the
West Bank and Gaza, and the resumption of the economic dialogue
between Israel and the PA.
Peres, Abbas may meet in Davos
World Economic Forum sources said PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is
expected to arrive in Davos on Saturday, in which case it is possible
he will hold a separate meeting with Peres.
Peres on Thursday said he expects a planned summit between Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon and Abbas to take place within days.
On Monday senior Sharon aide Dov Weisglass will meet with the new
U.S. Secretary of State Condolezza Rice, in advance of Rice´s
expected visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority next month.
Rice´s visit is intended to demonstrate her personal involvement in
the process and to encourage the new Palestinian leadership to combat
terror and advance the disengagement plan. (© Copyright 2005 Haaretz.
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