Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said he rejects the idea whereby a Palestinian “Gaza state” would be established following the pullout, the United Arab Emirates-based newspaper al Khaleej reported Wednesday.
“We reject out of hand the idea of a ‘Gaza state’ and a ‘West Bank state.’ The thing we fear most is that Gaza would become one large prison that would not be sufficiently open to the outside world,” he said.
Regarding Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Abbas said, ““We are familiar with Sharon’s words, ideas and opinions. Perhaps he would be satisfied with a withdrawal from Gaza, but this would mean Sharon does not want peace.”
“If Sharon does not want peace – this means he would be held responsible for disturbances that would ensue in the region and all around the world,” he said.
Abbas said that during his weekend talks with visiting U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice he had emphasized the need for swift answers on issues such as the safe passage between Gaza and the West Bank.
“The safe passage arrangement, must be materialized in one way or another so the West Bank and Gaza would be one geographical unit,” he said.
Differences of opinion
“This is what the Oslo agreements determined, and we will continue with our efforts so this (plan) would be carried out as soon as possible.”
During the interview Abbas thanked United Arab Emirates leader Sheikh Khalifa Al Nahayan for offering to build Palestinian towns in the in Gaza areas slated for evacuation in the framework of the disengagement.
He said the initiative calls for the construction of 3,000 housing units at an estimated cost of USD 100 million. The area would be called "Sheikh Khalifa ibn Zaid state” (named after the former Emirates leader).
Abbas said Israel has not presented ample information regarding the disengagement’s scope and when it is due to be carried out and condemned what he referred to as “The renewal of Israel’s targeted killing policy” following the Netanya terror attack.
“This is an intervention in Palestinian internal affairs. The PA and the factions have differences of opinion, which we solve among ourselves,” he said.
“When Israel interferes it means it is saying, ‘We are here, and we plan on staying here.’ We will never accept this.”
'PA searching for an alibi'
Abbas also suggested the crisis with Hamas would soon be resolved.
He said the incitement against him, which emanates both from within the PA and from outside sources (Israel), is “even more dangerous than the violence Israel is resorting to.”
However, he added that he does not rule out another meeting with Sharon or the holding of lower-level meetings “as long as the cooperation in the Civil and Security Committee continues.”
Government sources said in response to Abbas’ comments that the PA leader is looking for excuses for why the Palestinians have not done what they are obligated to regarding the war on terror.
“They are already searching for an alibi,” one source said.
As to Abbas’ statement whereby Sharon would be held responsible for future disturbances, the source said, “The comments are harsh, but they are also reminiscent of slanderous and hateful remarks made against Sharon in Israel.”
Diana Bachur-Nir contributed to this report.