‘Gaza plan should be the first step in wider pullout’
* EU chief stresses withdrawal from all occupied territories
BERLIN: Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip should be the first step in a wider pullout from Palestinian territories, the European Union’s foreign policy chief Javier Solana said in an interview with a German magazine to be published on Monday.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon “wants to begin (to follow the international peace plan known as the roadmap) with a withdrawal from the Gaza Strip,” Solana told Der Spiegel. “But he must also commit to making the withdrawal the first step in a process that leads to the pullout from all the occupied areas.” “If he thinks that withdrawal from Gaza alone is enough and that peace will automatically return, we will not back that idea. It would not be a dream but a nightmare.” Solana said the European Union would contribute to the implementation of the roadmap put forward by the EU, Russia, the United Nations and the United States by training Palestinian security forces. “From the beginning of November, there could be certain steps as part of the roadmap that could accelerate the process,” he said, in comment printed in German. “We plan, probably along with Egypt, to ensure that the Palestinian security authorities can carry out their duties.
“We will send people who are well-prepared so the Palestinians can have a reasonable command structure and also the means to carry out their tasks. “We want to commit all of our energy to creating security, otherwise there can be no Palestinian state. Of course, president Yasser Arafat must do his part and give his prime minister the necessary powers.” afp
Israel to compensate Gaza settlers
JERUSALEM: The Israeli cabinet approved on Sunday a bill to compensate settlers who are to be uprooted from their homes under Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s Gaza pullout plan, public radio reported. The legislation was approved by 13 votes to six, giving the premier a major boost ahead of a vote by MPs this week on his so-called disengagement plan. The bill will give the government the power to issue evacuation orders to the settlers and allows for anyone who tries to either remain in Gaza or block the pullout to be jailed for up to three years. It also lays down the terms of compensation agreed on by Sharon’s inner cabinet on September 14, which are likely to see families receive between 200,000 to 300,000 dollars in compensation. Under the terms of disengagement, all 8,000 Jewish residents of the Gaza Strip as well as several hundred settlers from four enclaves in the northern West Bank are to be evacuated next year. afp