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Ehud Barak
Photo: Daniel Bar-On
Photo: AFP
Condoleezza Rice
Photo: AFP
Salam Fayyad
Photo: Gil Yohanan

Barak says will allow establishment of Palestinian city

Israeli source says US Secretary of State Rice was 'amazed' by Israeli gestures to Palestinians presented during three-way meeting with defense minister, Palestinian prime minister

Condoleezza Rice was amazed by the Israeli gestures to the Palestinians, an Israeli source reported Sunday following a three-way meeting between the US secretary of state, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

 

The Palestinian leader refused to issue a joint Palestinian-Israeli-American statement, which was supported by Barak due to the Israeli gestures to the Palestinians presented during the meeting.

 

Rice eventually delivered a short statement, and the three officials were photographed and bid farewell.

 

During the meeting, the US secretary of state received a 35-page booklet in English, prepared by Barak's assistants in three days. Barak demanded that the booklet include a series of real gesturers, which would manifest Israel's seriousness without harming the security of Israel's citizens.

 

Ynet has learned that the series of gestures include the establishment of a city or several neighborhoods near the West Bank city of Ramallah, which would be financed by a Jordanian businessman.

 

The project would be built north of the town of al-Bireh and is aimed to be inhabited by tens of thousands of Palestinians in a bid to ease the housing shortage in the Ramallah area.

 

The city will be connected by a road in the Birzeit area, approved by the IDF. The plan is currently subject to the approval of the Civil Administration, in coordination with the Palestinians.

 

35 pages of restrictions to be eased

Rice told Barak during the three-way meeting that she welcomed the serious work she was presented with. During her meetings Sunday with Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, the US secretary of state said that such actions were the only way for the process to move forward.


Fayyad, Rice and Barak in Jerusalem (Photo: AFP)

 

The defense minister said during the meeting that Israel planned to remove the Mevo Horon outpost, in addition to two other outposts already removed.

 

Barak also announced that 700 Palestinian police officers would be allowed to enter Jenin, and that a checkpoint and 50 dirt roadblocks would also be removed, easing the Palestinians' movement between the West Bank cities of Jenin, Tulkarm, Qalqilya and Ramallah.

 

Additional gestures presented in the meeting include:

 

  • The establishment of a Palestinian police station in the B areas.
  • The transfer of 25 armored vehicles to the Palestinians.
  • Ease of restriction on Palestinian public figures.
  • Building two intersections for the Palestinians in the Hebron area.
  • Advancing the establishment of industrial zones in Jericho and hebron.
  • Increasing the number of laborers allowed to work in Israel to 5,000.

 

In addition, Palestinian businesspeople passing through the crossing will undergo easier security checks, and the daily quota of people allowed to pass will be increased from 500 to 1,500.

 

Barak also suggested upgrading the infrastructure for aiding the Palestinians waiting at the crossings, the cost of which is estimated at NIS 8.3 million, transferring 325 cars and logistic equipment from the IDF to the Palestinian security organizations, including generators, blankets and first aid kits, and looking into the possibility of handing bullet-proof vests to the police officers subject to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, as well as building a sewage purification device in the Beit Hanoun area.

 

As she left the meeting Sunday, Rice said that the parties discussed the need to improve reality in accordance with the route suggested at the Annapolis peace conference. She added that Barak and Fayyad told her they had met before her arrival and would continue to meet in the future.

 

Rice's previous visit to the region took place only three weeks ago, and her recent remarks testify to Washington's dissatisfaction with the progress made. The US is concerned about the continued Israeli construction in the territories, the failure to evacuate illegal outposts and the presence of roadblocks across the West Bank.

 


פרסום ראשון: 03.30.08, 14:10
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