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AG: Decision to seize Palestinian property made without my consent (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Yuval Yoaz, Aluf Benn, Meron Rapaport and Gideon Alon, Haaretz Correspondents 01/31/05 14:19 (GMT+2)Source: http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/spages/533808.html HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
Attorney General Menachem Mazuz announced Monday the government´s decision to confiscate East Jerusalem property owned by Palestinians was made without his knowledge or consent.

Mazuz made the written statement in reaction to a request by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel that Mazuz nullify the decision. Mazuz also said the matter is being examined urgently and that in the next few days he will comment on the land seizure, which was reported in Haaretz two weeks ago.

Israel has promised the United States that it will re-examine its decision, made last summer, to seize property in East Jerusalem that is owned by Palestinians who have been cut off from their land by the separation fence. Mazuz has been in his post since last January.

The Americans have expressed concern about the expropriation of land. In response, Israeli officials said they understood the sensitivity of the matter and promised to take another look at the government decision.

Israeli officials said they expected that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will be bringing up the issue today at her meeting in Washington with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon´s envoys, attorney Dov Weisglass, political adviser Shalom Turgeman, Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Danny Ayalon and the premier´s military secretary, Major General Yoav Galant.

The main subject of the meeting - in advance of Rice´s trip to Israel and the Palestinian Authority next Sunday - is the political process with the Palestinians and the planned summit between Sharon and Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas the following Tuesday.

Rice is to visit Israel and the territories next Sunday, two days before the February 9 summit. Israeli sources said they expect Rice will probably also visit Iraq.

The Americans seek to establish a mechanism supervised by the CIA to sustain the emerging security cooperation between Israel and the PA, even if there are terrorist attacks by organizations trying to disrupt the process.

Israeli steps to aid Abbas

The Weisglass team will present Rice, who is expected to be joined by National Security Adviser Steven Hadley, with Israel´s suggestions for confidence-building measures to help Abbas. These include handing over West Bank cities to the Palestinians, release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners and detainees, and more freedom of movement for Palestinians.

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz is also slated to meet with senior PA official Mohammed Dahlan Monday or Tuesday, to continue discussing the hand-over of five West Bank cities: Ramallah, which will apparently be the first, Bethlehem, Qalqiliyah, Tul Karm and Jericho.

Israel is worried that the PA security forces in the West Bank, unlike those in the Gaza Strip, have been completely debilitated in the last four years and are not prepared right now to take over the cities as Israel is proposing.

Dahlan, who is expected to be named a minister in the new Palestinian government - possibly with responsibility for coordinating the disengagement from Gaza and the northern West Bank with Israel - is to bring a detailed security plan to Mofaz at their meeting. Mofaz, in any case, said Sunday that he thinks the cities can be handed over in a matter of days. (© Copyright 2005 Haaretz. 01/31/05)

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