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Monday, October 25, 2004

Solana: Gaza pullout only the first step

Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip should be the first step in a wider pullout from Palestinian territories, the European Union’s foreign policy chief Javier Solana said in an interview with a German magazine to be published on Monday.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon “wants to begin (to follow the international peace plan known as the roadmap) with a withdrawal from the Gaza Strip,” Solana told Der Spiegel. “But he must also commit to making the withdrawal the first step in a process that leads to the pullout from all the occupied areas.” “If he thinks that withdrawal from Gaza alone is enough and that peace will automatically return, we will not back that idea. It would not be a dream but a nightmare.” Solana said the European Union would contribute to the implementation of the roadmap put forward by the EU, Russia, the United Nations and the United States by training Palestinian security forces. “From the beginning of November, there could be certain steps as part of the roadmap that could accelerate the process,” he said, in comment printed in German. “We plan, probably along with Egypt, to ensure that the Palestinian security authorities can carry out their duties.

“We will send people who are well-prepared so the Palestinians can have a reasonable command structure and also the means to carry out their tasks. “We want to commit all of our energy to creating security, otherwise there can be no Palestinian state. Of course, president Yasser Arafat must do his part and give his prime minister the necessary powers.” (afp)