GAZA - With just 19 days left to disengagement, the Palestinians have already set their sites on a new goal: Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia said Wednesday that the prize is a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as is its capital.
"We are telling the entire world, today Gaza and tomorrow Jerusalem. Today Gaza and tomorrow and independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital," he said while reviewing Palestinian forces in Gaza.
Qureia said that the Palestinians would not establish a state without Jerusalem: "We won't establish a country with the racist separation fence; there won't be a (Palestinian) state with aggressive settlements and a state will not arise without our achieving all the rights of our Palestinian nation and the right of return."
Qureia said that the Palestinian forces were ready for the IDF pullout.
"Our forces are ready to build our homeland and are ready to turn the Israeli withdrawal to one that is orderly, quiet and the beginning of the freeing of the entire homeland," he said.
Speaking to the troops
Qureia turned to Palestinian security personnel and said, "Our faith in you is great … We are facing great challenges and we'll succeed in overcoming this one and we'll bring an end of the occupation of our land, an irreversible withdrawal. With your help, we'll return order, security and the rule of law (to Gaza)."
The PA prime minister dismissed threats made by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon about responding harshly should Israel be attacked while withdrawing from Gaza.
Qureia said that Israel has already used every weapon in its inventory on the Palestinian people, so there was nothing left to fear.
The PA has warned Palestinians not to get close areas under Israeli control for fear of land mines. It also warned the public not to touch border fences and not to enter evacuated settlements or IDF posts.
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, who arrived in Gaza on Monday, is expected to stay until after the pullout.