Israel deports Palestinian in 'war crime'

The Israeli army has deported a Palestinian from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip after two years of detention without trial in an Israeli prison.

    Israel has been condemned for its treatment of prisoners

    Luai Salama, a member of the Popular Front for the

    Liberation of Palestine-General Command, said Israeli

    authorities had informed him on Wednesday night he was to be

    deported to Gaza for four years. The army had no immediate

    comment.

    "It is unfair. It is a war crime and a violation of

    international humanitarian law," he said

    .

    Israel has deported more than 20 Palestinians from the West

    Bank to Gaza in recent months, saying that to put them on trial

    would expose agents who provided information about them.

    Salama, a resident of the village of Qaryot near the West

    Bank city of Ram A

    llah, said he had been arrested by an

    undercover Israeli unit during an army raid into Ram Allah two

    years ago.

    Condemnation

    "They accused me of being a risk to Israel's security," he

    said.

    "That's how they describe people they want to put in jail

    or deport."

    "It is unfair. It is a war crime and a violation of

    international humanitarian law...

    They accused me of being a risk to Israel's security.

    That's how they describe people they want to put in jail

    or deport"

    Luai Salama,
    Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command

    Human rights groups have condemned the Israeli policy of deportations in the recent past.

    Amnesty International has called the policy a grave violation of human rights and a challenge to the internationally recognised

    principle of a fair trial.

    The group says that anyone suspected of a criminal offence
    should be charged and brought to trial, or immediately released.

    Sharon plan

    Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has presented his plan to "disengage" from the Palestinians to a team of senior US officials.

    The plan includes a

    proposal to evacuate Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip, a US

    official said.

    William Burns, the assistant secretary of state for Near East

    affairs, and White House officials Steve Hadley and Elliot Abrams

    began meeting with Sharon in his

    office in Jerusalem on Thursday.

    Sharon has said he will start unilaterally disengaging from the

    Palestinians in the next few months if there is no progress in the

    US-backed roadmap peace plan with the Palestinians.

    As part of his plan, the right-wing leader has pledged to

    evacuate 17 Gaza settlements and other isolated Jewish settlements

    on the West Bank.

    Settlements

    Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, who met with the US delegation

    on Wednesday, told public radio that the officials were "not opposed to

    the evacuation of settlements".

    "But they want the Israeli plan to be integrated into the

    roadmap as laid out in President (George) Bush's vision which

    sees a two-state solution," he said.

    "They (US officials) don't want settlers from the Gaza Strip

    to be transferred to Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), or the

    annexation of territories there in exchange for an evacuation of

    Gaza"

    Silvan Shalom,
    Israeli foreign minister

    "On the other hand, they don't want settlers from the Gaza Strip

    to be transferred to Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), or the

    annexation of territories there in exchange for an evacuation of

    Gaza," he said.

    An official close to Sharon said the premier would only present

    the US team with "the basics" of the plan before presenting it more

    completely to Bush.

    Roadmap

    Another senior US diplomat stressed that Israel must follow

    through with peace moves for the West Bank, in addition to

    evacuating the Gaza settlements, which are consistent with the US

    vision of a two-state solution to the conflict.

    "A comprehensive resolution cannot include only Gaza first and

    last," David Satterfield, deputy assistant secretary for Near

    Eastern Affairs, said in an interview broadcast on Egyptian state

    television.

    The diplomat also said the Palestinian leadership must emerge as

    a partner in peace by improving security for Israelis and reforming

    its political institutions.

    The roadmap peace plan calls for a Palestinian state existing

    peacefully alongside Israel to be created by 2005.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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