Abed Rabbo: We Cannot Be ‘Sub-contractors’ for Israel - Salam Fayydh Economic Development No Substitute for Political Progress (Palestine Media Center- (PMC) 01/30/05)
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Amid a flurry of high-level Palestinian-Israeli meetings and reports
of a summit meeting between Mahmoud Abbas and Ariel Sharon during the
second week of February, PLO executive member and co-author of the
unofficial Geneva Initiative Yaser Abed Rabbo warned that
Palestinians “cannot be sub-contractors for unilateral Israeli moves.”
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon will hold their first summit during the second week of
February, Palestinian Cabinet Secretary Hasan Abu Libdeh and Sharon’s
office confirmed on Saturday.
The meeting will coincide with a planned visit to the region by US
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Abu Libdeh confirmed that Rice
will visit the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories on February 6
Palestinian minister Saeb Erakat and Sharon’s top aide Dov Weisglass
met on Wednesday to discuss the emerging cease-fire deal and prepare
for a meeting between Sharon and Abbas.
The summit meeting would be the highest-level contact between Israel
and the Palestine National Authority (PNA) since June 2003 when
Sharon and Abbas — then prime minister — launched the UN-
adopted “roadmap” peace plan in the Jordanian city port of Aqaba.
White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said the United States “would
be glad to see talks being held at the highest level” between
Palestinian and Israeli officials.
Sharon had frozen political contact with Palestinian leaders on
January 14 but decided to resume these contacts “very quickly,”
Israeli public radio announced Wednesday.
Israel’s “Defense” Minister Shaul Mofaz met late Saturday night with
Palestinian former security minister Mohammad Dahlan under tight
security at a Tel Aviv hotel. Commander of the Palestinian National
Security Forces Haj Ismail attended the meeting. The talks focused on
After the meeting, Mofaz said the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF)
were ready to hand over control of several towns in the mostly
occupied West Bank to the PNA within days.
Israeli officials said Mofaz and Dahlan would meet again in the
Last Tuesday, Palestinian and Israeli generals, including Maj. Gen.
Mousa Arafat and Israeli Brig. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, met at the Erez
crossing point between Gaza and Israel to complete plans for
Palestinian forces to deploy in the southern Gaza Strip, a move that
took place on Friday.
Earlier in the week, Israeli President Moshe Katsav called Abbas to
talk about the importance of working together for peace, Katsav’s
office said Monday.
Abed Rabbo: Palestinians Cannot Be ‘Sub-contractors’ for Israel
However, Palestinian leaders warned their Israeli counterparts in
Davos, Switzerland, that a new spirit of bilateral cooperation with
Israel would endure only if Israel’s unilateral pullout from Gaza was
linked to a final peace settlement.
On Saturday, member of the executive committee of the Palestine
Liberation Organization (PLO) and co-author of the Geneva Initiative
Yaser Abed Rabbo, Palestinian Finance Minister Salam Fayyadh and
Economy Minister Maher al-Masri met with Israel’s Vice Prime Minister
Shimon Peres, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom and Industry and Trade
Minister Ehud Olmert in Davos Saturday, the Israeli Haaretz daily
Abed Rabbo said in Davos the dream of a new partnership could be
destroyed if Israel continued expanding the illegal colonies dotting
the West Bank and building its expansionist Wall on occupied
“With what is currently going 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 told the Davos Economic Forum,
which on Sunday concludes four-day meetings.
A day earlier, Abed Rabbo told a special session of the Forum: “We
cannot be sub-contractors for unilateral Israeli moves.”
He urged Israel to resume the final status negotiations.
“We need a comprehensive solution that will close all the gaps ...
Side by side with the Gaza step, there should be a resumption of the
final status negotiations,” he said.
“I think that in order to guarantee that any security measures will
be sustained, a serious political process needs to begin,” Rabbo
said. “We are interested in having a comprehensive solution where two
states will exist side-by-side. A chance for having such a solution
will contribute to a just and lasting peace for two nations.”
Abed Rabbo and his Israeli representative Geneva Initiative Avraham
Burg were in Stockholm Saturday, Sweden’s Ministry for Foreign
Burg is a member of the Israeli Parliament (the Knesset) for the
Labor Party and is a former speaker of the Knesset.
Both men “belong to the circle that drafted the Geneva Initiative – a
private initiative intended to show how it would be possible for the
parties to achieve a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict,” the ministry said.
Abed Rabbo and Burg met with Minister for Foreign Affairs Laia
Fayyadh: Economic Development No Substitute for Political Progress
Similarly, Palestinian Finance Minister Salam Fayyadh emphasized in
Davos the need to make Israel’s unilateral plan for “disengagement”
from the Gaza Strip a first step in a full political process based on
the Quartet’s “roadmap,” leading to a peace agreement between the two
Cautioning against an economic-only approach, Fayyadh
said: “Important though it is, economic development is no substitute
for a credible, durable progress on the political track.”
“We should make an effort to end the occupation not only in Gaza, but
in the West Bank as well,” he said.
“The key should be creating hope and an ability to pull the
disengagement into a final [peace] agreement. We need a complete
mutual halt to violence, an end to occupation and to give special
attention to economic development,” he elaborated.
Fayyadh was commenting on Israeli officials focusing on economic
Peres and Fayyadh agreed on the necessity to carry out a plan to
upgrade the crossings between Israel and the PNA. Peres told Fayyadh
Israel had reached an agreement with the World Bank under which the
bank would participate in the project’s funding.
Both men also discussed instating free movement of goods between the
Gaza Strip and Ashdod’s port by train or other means, as well as
raising international investments in the territories.
Israel Sounds Conditionally Forthcoming
Israeli officials in Davos sounded conditionally forthcoming on
Palestinian demands to coordinate Israel’s unilateral moves with
Palestinians and to link the plan to a final status accord.
“It is always better to do things out of agreement. But most
important is to carry them out, not to talk,” Ehud Olmert said.
“As soon as the disengagement [plan] is completed, even if it is just
a beginning, it will have a dramatic effect on lives and other
aspects would follow,” he added.
“The beauty of the Israeli plan is that instead of holding meetings
we set a timetable and said we are changing the status quo in the
Middle East,” Olmert said.
Leader of the Israeli Labor party and Vice Premier Peres supported
linking Gaza plan with a “political process.”
A political process should take place along side the disengagement
plan, in order to avoid creating a gap between the political and
economic progress, he said.
“We need to act swiftly so that the economic impact of the political
moves would be fast and that a gap between them wouldn´t be a trap
for Palestinians,” Peres said.
“There is also need for economic democracy in the Palestinian
Authority. We need to give Palestinians the feeling that peace is not
just a promise, but an immediate change in their lives. We need to
work together to achieve this,” he added. (© PMC 2005 01/30/05)
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