GAZA, Palestine, June 28, 2005 (IPC + Agencies) – – The Minister of Civil Affairs and in charge of the Israel Withdrawal Portfolio, Mohammed Dahlan, said that the Palestinian side would deal with any Israeli withdrawal from any piece of land as a victory for the will of the Palestinians.

Dahlan, who was speaking to journalists in Gaza City about the coordination of the withdrawal with the Israeli side, said that the coordination would focus on three issues; the Rafah border terminal, the safe passage between Gaza and the West Bank, the Gaza airport and harbor.

The Minister also added that coordination was also being made about the assets inside the illegal Israeli settlements to be evacuated by Israel, while another point of coordination was the legal status of Gaza Strip and northern West Bank after the withdrawal.

Dahlan confirmed that the Israeli side continued to stall in the coordination process, pointing out that the Palestinian Authority has demanded full information from the Israeli side on the settlement assets but didn’t receive anything from the long list of demands they’ve handed over to Israel.

“In principle, Israel will evacuate the crossings, but details about that was not discussed and they didn’t give clear answers about it. the Israeli government will keep the Karni [commercial] crossing working as it is now but with introducing some advanced technologies,” Dahlan told reporters.

He hinted that Israel was not interested in having contiguity between Gaza and the West Bank, saying they preferred the current situation to remain as it is after the withdrawal. “The Israeli government doesn’t understand the issue of the [Gaza international] airport and they don’t want us to use it or fix it or even reuse it after their upcoming withdrawal.”

Concerning the smuggling operations across the Egyptian borderline, Dahlan affirmed that a third party should be involved in this issue, adding that the Palestinians’ only condition was to clear the border crossings from any Israeli presence.

The Civil Affairs Minister maintained that the PA has offered all the Palestinian factions to join them in coordinating the withdrawal and prepare for the upcoming Israeli moves.

“These factions have not given responses yet, as they don’t have a decision yet to participate in working with us,” Dahlan said, stressing that the window of opportunity was still open for everyone.

Dahlan reiterated Prime Minister Ahmad Qurei’s call to political participation in forming a government of national unity, which included all factions, pointing out that the Palestinian leadership was ready to consider any faction who wants to join.

Source: IPC + Agencies
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