Bush support for settlements decried

Palestinians have decried US President George Bush's support for Israel's right to maintain colonies in the West Bank, describing the US stance a grant of de facto legitimacy to Tel Aviv's settlement activities.

    Abu Libda: Bush's opposition to settlement expansion not new

    In his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in Texas on Monday, Bush urged Palestinians and Israelis to be committed to the road map peace plan, and stressed that Israel should stop expanding its settlement activities.

    But the president also reiterated Israel's right to keep colonies in the West Bank.

    Arab initiative ignored

    A Palestinian minister told Aljazeera that Bush had ignored Palestinian and Arab efforts to get the peace process on track, and had overlooked the hand of peace that was extended by Arab leaders in their last summit in Algeria to revive the Arab peace initiative. 

    Arab leaders recently extended a
    peace initiative to Israel

    "We have hoped that Bush would consider the different developments in Palestine and the Arab world more seriously,"  Palestinian Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Hasan Abu Libda said.

    "During the last Arab summit, Arabs have shown their ambition to revive the Arab peace initiative, and what happened in Texas represents a practical answer to these Palestinian and Arab efforts," he said.

    Old stance

    Abu Libda went on to say that there was nothing new in Bush's opposition to settlement expansion.

    "This is an old US position and the Israeli practical response is also old. Settlements and the apartheid wall are still being built and settlement activities are still under way," he added.

    The Palestinian minister also blamed Israel for violating the Sharm al-Shaikh agreements by carrying out daily attacks on Palestinians, and accused Sharon of ignoring the commitments he made to Palestinians.

    Three Palestinian youths were
    killed by Israeli fire on Saturday

    "Sharon is trying, through his public and private relations with US officials, to run away from the fact that he has an active Palestinian partner who is able to maintain the peace process.

    "He keeps throwing accusations [at Palestinians] while what is happening on the ground is completely different," Abu Libda said.

    "Three Palestinian teenagers were killed few days ago. In addition, Israel is carrying out many other activities against Palestinians: Raiding Palestinian areas, and arresting and injuring citizens," he added.

    The Palestinian minister urged Washington to make real practical efforts to save peace from negative consequences that may result from "the ongoing Israeli violations".

    SOURCE: Aljazeera


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