Abbas urges more Gaza coordination

Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas has called for closer Israeli coordination over the pullout of Jewish settlers and troops from the Gaza Strip, due to start in July.

    Abbas (R) says Palestinians are ready to coordinate with Israel

    In a statement after talks with Egyptian President Husni

    Mubarak on Sunday, the Palestinian Authority president also called for clarity

    on the relationship of the withdrawal to the international peace

    plan known as the road map, drawn up by the European Union, the United States, the 

    United Nations, and Russia

    .

    "We must know where we are going, if the pullout is linked to

    the road map and if it is a total pullout," Abbas said on Sunday.

    The Palestinian leader, who met Mubarak in the Egyptian Red

    Sea resort of Sharm al-Shaikh, also said "Palestinians are

    ready to coordinate with Israelis" on the Gaza withdrawal, but want

    additional details.

    Abbas said Israel was too slow in implementing a series of

    goodwill measures agreed upon at a February peace summit, among them

    army withdrawals from several West Bank towns and the release of

    hundreds of prisoners detained in Israeli jails.

    "This process had indeed begun but was postponed because of

    Israel ... Israelis do not want to move forward on this matter," he

    charged.

    Jordan meeting

    Meeting later with Jordan's King Abd Allah II in Amman,

    Abbas and the king said the issue of Jewish settlements posed

    "an obstacle to a just and comprehensive peace", calling for "a halt

    to the construction of new and illegal settlements" in the

    Palestinian territories.

    "This process had indeed begun but was postponed because of

    Israel ... Israelis do not want to move forward on this matter"

    Mahmud Abbas,
    Palestinian president

    They also said that East Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque, the

    third holiest site in Islam, must be protected from "any threat by

    extremist Jewish groups".

    The king also called for

    Israel to follow up on its planned Gaza withdrawal by pulling out of

    the West Bank.

    "The pullout from Gaza should be followed by a withdrawal from

    the West Bank as laid down in the road map," he said

    in a statement issued by the palace.

    SOURCE: AFP


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