The US and its peace partners must help the Palestinians and Israelis resume talks aimed at achieving Palestinian statehood, Jordan’s prime minister told a top UN envoy yesterday.
Syria’s foreign minister also urged Palestinian unity to create an independent state as Israel neared the end of its landmark withdrawal from the Gaza Strip following its 38-year occupation of the Mediterranean coastal area.
Since Israel announced plans to withdraw all Jewish settlements from Gaza and four from the Palestinian West Bank, a shaky cease-fire has held and dramatically reduced violent attacks by Palestinian militants and counterattacks and targeted assassinations by Israel.
Israel completed the withdrawal of settlers from Gaza two weeks ago, although it’s the military remains there.
Jordanian premier Adnan Badran told Alvaro de Soto, the senior UN envoy for the Mideast peace process, that Palestinian leaders need the international community’s support following Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.
Badran, who did not specify if the required support was political, military or financial, praised the role of the Quartet, a grouping of the US, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations.
The Quartet has devised a peace road map with the Israelis and Palestinians envisioning a Palestinian state side-by-side with Israel.
“The role of the Quartet is significant to make Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip a success,” Badran said, according to the state-run Petra news agency.
It can also influence Palestinians and Israelis to return to the negotiating table to discuss a final settlement based on the road map, he added.
Such negotiations will help “achieve peace and set the stage for establishing a viable Palestinian state,” he added.
In Damascus, Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa made his comments after meeting in Damascus with the head of the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s mainstream Fatah faction, Farouk Kaddoumi.
“Palestinian unity is needed now more than ever to enable the Palestinian people to recover their legitimate right of return and establishing their independent state,” al-Sharaa said according to Syria’s official news agency SANA.
Kaddoumi said the PLO would share responsibilities with Islamic groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad for administering Gaza after Israel’s pullout, adding that the armed resistance to Israeli is legitimate.
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said yesterday that he has not been able to resolve a dispute with Israel over Gaza’s vital Rafah border crossing with Egypt, but he hoped a deal will be reached “very soon.”
Without agreement on that and other issues, including the opening of a harbour and airport, Palestinians say Israel’s Gaza occupation is not really ending. Israel has evacuated all 21 settlements in Gaza and last week completed demolition of the homes left behind.
Palestinian Cabinet Minister Mohammed Dahlan warned Israel that it must leave Rafah and that Palestinians must have a working airport in Gaza.
“Israel must withdraw from Rafah and the movement of people must be free and Israel has nothing to do with Rafah,” Dahlan told reporters at an Amman hospital. “The Palestinians do not want that Gaza Strip to be transformed into a prison and should not remain a prison.”
The Gaza crossing into Egypt is the Palestinians’ most important link to the outside world. The Palestinians say free movement through the border will be essential for reviving Gaza’s economy.
Israel wants to maintain some control over the border, fearing weapons could be smuggled into Gaza.