Bush: Palestinians Must Take Next Step
This is more like it: Bush: Palestinians must take next step.
The Palestinians have the onus of moving forward on the road map, US President George Bush said on Tuesday. In a conversation with reporters in Idaho, where Bush is vacationing, the President made it clear that the Palestinians must take the next step towards peace, by reforming their government and their security forces.
“Of course we want to get back to the road map, but I understand that in order for this process to go forward there must be confidence, confidence that the Palestinian people would have with their own government to perform, confidence with the Israelis, that they’ll see a peaceful state emerging,” Bush said.
Nice words. But how much progress are the Palestinians making toward that “peaceful state?”
Hamas and Islamic Jihad announced on Monday that they have reached an agreement with the Palestinian Authority according to which the two groups would not be disarmed.
The agreement was reportedly achieved during talks in Damascus between PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei and leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Qurei met Sunday night in Damascus with leaders of various radical groups, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and discussed ways of cooperating with them after implementation of the disengagement plan is completed. Sources close to the two groups said Qurei made it clear that the PA would not confiscate the weapons of any of the armed groups in the Gaza Strip.
Musa Abu Marzouk, a senior Hamas leader based in Syria, said the meeting was held in a “cordial atmosphere” and that the two sides agreed that the Palestinians should have a joint strategy after disengagement. “We stressed during the meeting that the Palestinians have the right to continue the resistance [against Israel] and that there would be no attempt to collect weapons from the resistance groups,” he said.
“The weapons of the resistance were founded to defend the Palestinian people and resist the occupation,” he added. “The Gaza victory was achieved with the weapons of the resistance, which is the only strategy to drive Israel out of the rest of our lands.”
Palestinians are planning to rename the settlements in the Gaza Strip “to erase any memory” of Israel’s presence in the area.
In recent weeks, the PA received many requests from Palestinians asking that the settlements be given Arab names. Most of the requests have come from families of Palestinians who were killed since the second intifada broke out in September 2000. The families want to honor their sons by calling some of the settlements after them. Others have demanded that some settlements be named after Palestinian leaders. …
According to Agence France Press, some Palestinians have proposed to name Neveh Dekalim, the largest settlement in Gush Katif, after Yasser Arafat.
The agency said other proposals called for naming Atzmona after a Palestinian “martyr” and Netzarim or Kfar Darom after slain Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin.
Can’t you just smell a peaceful state emerging?