Photo: Reuters
Was pullout only the beginning?
Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters
Is Assad desperate?
Photo: Reuters

U.S. officials: Gaza exit not last

Senior U.S. State Department officials tell UAE newspaper all parties involved in peace process, including Israelis and Palestinians, convinced more withdrawals in store, say Hamas terrorists must disarm

U.S. State Department Spokesman Adam Ereli and top public affairs official Alberto Fernandez say they believe the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip is not the last one and will be followed by more pullouts.


In an interview published Friday in Arabic-language newspaper al-Khaleej, in the United Arab Emirates, Fernandez stressed that repeated Israeli declarations insisting the Gaza withdrawal was the last such move were untrue.


“The parties taking part in the peace process, including the Palestinians, Israelis, and the international community are convinced this (more withdrawals) is the case,” he said. “We know it’s a long process but it’s ongoing.”


“The withdrawal from Gaza was a positive step accompanied by other steps,” Fernandez said. “The problem is that there was a turn to violence in recent days, which could cause frustration in Israel. We want to see reconstruction and prosperity in Gaza, but unfortunately what we’re seeing is the firing of missiles followed by an escalation.”


“We want to see a Palestinian state being constructed. We want to see a democratic Palestinian state,” he said. “What happened is a big problem for Israel, but it’s a bigger problem for the Palestinian people.”


‘Assad is desperate’


Regarding the U.S. position on Hamas, Fernandez said the terror group must make a decision whether it is a political party or a resistance organization. He noted the group must disarm and take part in the peace process, as was the case with the Irish Republican Army in Ireland.


Addressing the Hamas declaration is was halting its violence, Fernandez said: “The Hamas announced a unilateral truce. It’s easy to do this unilaterally and then not follow up on it. It’s a farce, and therefore the Palestinians must answer the question of whether a militia or terrorism have a role to play in the peace process. Isn’t it necessary for the State to hold a monopoly on weapons?”


Regarding reports that Syrian president Bashar Assad pressed Palestinians groups to carry out terror attacks, Fernandez said: “This is a question that should be directed to senior Syrian officials, but without a doubt I know from my experience in Syria, where I lived for a long time, that Syria used to employ the various Palestinian Jihad organizations as a tool to press Israel and others.”


Meanwhile, Ereli added that in his view Syria is desperate and is acting accordingly, and sooner or later will realize internal problems cannot be solved by creating external problems.


“I believe Assad will reach the day where he realizes he has no choice but to change this trend and start putting his house in order,” he said.


פרסום ראשון: 09.30.05, 15:11
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