Quraya hopes for total Israeli pullout

Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmad Quraya has greeted Israel's plan to evacuate 17 Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip as good news.

    Quraya hopes to see Israeli withdraw in Gaza and West Bank

    In his first public comment on Israeli PM Ariel Sharon's intention to pull Jews out of Gaza, Quraya told the Voice of Palestine radio on Tuesday that he hoped Tel Aviv would withdraw from all Palestinian areas.

    But calling for "deeds, not words", the Palestinian PM said: "We need to see that they [the Israelis] have left all of the Gaza Strip and that all of the Gaza Strip has become Palestinian liberated land."
       
    He added any Gaza pullout should be followed by a similar Israeli withdrawal from occupied land in the West Bank.
       
    "Then, there will be a real peace. Otherwise, the situation will remain as is," he said. 
       
    Proposed withdrawl

    Sharon, dropping a political bombshell on Monday, said he had given orders to plan the evacuation of 17 of the 21 settlements Israel has built in the Gaza Strip since seizing land in the 1967 Middle East war.
       
    Such a step would be part of unilateral disengagement moves Sharon has already threatened, should the US-backed peace "road map" fail.
       

    "We need to see that they [the Israelis] have left all of the Gaza Strip and that all of the Gaza Strip has become Palestinian liberated land"

    Ahmad Quraya,
    Palestinian prime minister

    Under separation from the Palestinians, Sharon has said they will end up with less land than they are seeking for a state.

    In a separate move, Israel has indicated it could hand over some Israeli Arab areas to Palestinian rule in exchange for Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

    Moving borders

    But a spokesman for Sharon said if there was any shift in the border it would be done only by mutual consent and not through unilateral separation steps that Israel was planning if talks with the Palestinians failed.
       
    Palestinians make up almost 20% of Israel's population, but social and political friction has been rife during the three years of the intifada.
       
    There is growing concern among Jewish citizens that the population balance is shifting in favour of Muslim citizens because of a much higher birth rate.
       
    Spokesman Ranaan Gissin said "considering the demographic problems facing Israel, in the context of an agreement with the Palestinian entity, it will ask to move the border so that the entity will have full jurisdiction over the people there."
       
    "In return, Israel would extend itself to those clusters of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] in order to establish a demographic balance."

    SOURCE: Reuters


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