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Rice: Israel Must Withdraw from More than Gaza and Samaria (INN-ISRAEL NATIONAL NEWS) 02/01/05)Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/news.php3?id=76238 INN} ISRAEL NATIONAL NEWS INN} ISRAEL NATIONAL NEWS Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice says that disengagement from Gush Katif and northern Shomron is fine, but only as a first step towards a full-fledged PLO state.

Rice met with Prime Minister Sharon´s top aide Dov Weisglass in Washington on Monday. She explained to him the U.S. position that the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza is acceptable only as a prelude to the full Road Map plan proposed by President Bush.

The Road Map plan calls for a "viable" - i.e., territorially- contiguous - Arab state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Rice, as well, emphasized this point to Weisglass. This means that Gaza must be connected with a land-line to Judea, effectively dividing Israel in half, north and south of the Gaza-Hevron connection.

However, Associate Prime Minister Shimon Peres said today, "I think that she was not referring to a connection between Judea and Gaza, but rather to a connection between Judea and Samaria... We do have to ensure, however, that the [PA entity] will be able to effectively move goods between Gaza and Judea."

Prime Minister Sharon often says that the disengagement will help Israel strengthen its hold on five settlement blocs in Judea and Samaria. Nowhere, however, has US President Bush ever promised such support. In a letter to Sharon almost two years ago, Bush wrote only, "In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949..."

Rice´s statements that the disengagement is only a first step further erodes Israeli hopes that the international community will approve extensive Israeli presence in the Biblical homeland areas it liberated in the Six Day War of 1967.

Secretary Rice is expected to arrive in Israel in the coming days. Upon assuming her post as Secretary of State last week, Rice said she sees the implementation of an arrangement in the Middle East a "personal objective."

Excerpts from the Road Map plan as issued by the U.S. Department of State on April 30, 2003: "A two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will only be achieved through an end to violence and terrorism, when the Palestinian people have a leadership acting decisively against terror and willing and able to build a practicing democracy based on tolerance and liberty, and through Israel´s readiness to do what is necessary for a democratic Palestinian state to be established, and a clear, unambiguous acceptance by both parties of the goal of a negotiated settlement as described below. The Quartet will assist and facilitate implementation of the plan, starting in Phase I, including direct discussions between the parties as required. The plan establishes a realistic timeline for implementation. However, as a performance-based plan, progress will require and depend upon the good faith efforts of the parties, and their compliance with each of the obligations outlined below...

"A settlement, negotiated between the parties, will result in the emergence of an independent, democratic, and viable Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbors...

"In Phase I, the Palestinians immediately undertake an unconditional cessation of violence according to the steps outlined below; such action should be accompanied by supportive measures undertaken by Israel... Israel also freezes all settlement activity, consistent with the Mitchell report.

"* Palestinian leadership issues unequivocal statement reiterating Israel´s right to exist in peace and security and calling for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire to end armed activity and all acts of violence against Israelis anywhere. All official Palestinian institutions end incitement against Israel.

"* Israeli leadership issues unequivocal statement affirming its commitment to the two-state vision of an independent, viable, sovereign Palestinian state living in peace and security alongside Israel, as expressed by President Bush, and calling for an immediate end to violence against Palestinians everywhere. All official Israeli institutions end incitement against Palestinians.

"* Palestinians declare an unequivocal end to violence and terrorism and undertake visible efforts on the ground to arrest, disrupt, and restrain individuals and groups conducting and planning violent attacks on Israelis anywhere.

"* Israel immediately dismantles settlement outposts erected since March 2001.

"* Consistent with the Mitchell Report, Israel freezes all settlement activity (including natural growth of settlements).

"* [In the final stage,] Parties reach final and comprehensive permanent status agreement that ends the Israel-Palestinian conflict in 2005, through a settlement negotiated between the parties based on UNSCR 242, 338, and 1397, that ends the occupation that began in 1967, and includes an agreed, just, fair, and realistic solution to the refugee issue, and a negotiated resolution on the status of Jerusalem that takes into account the political and religious concerns of both sides, and protects the religious interests of Jews, Christians, and Muslims worldwide, and fulfills the vision of two states, Israel and sovereign, independent, democratic and viable Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security.

"* Arab state acceptance of full normal relations with Israel and security for all the states of the region in the context of a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace." (IsraelNationalNews © 02/01/05)

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