Erekat voices optimism over Sharon-Qureia summit
- Last Update: 01/12/2003 11:02
Erekat voices optimism over Sharon-Qureia summit
By Gideon Alon and Aluf Benn, Haaretz Correspondents
As U.S. envoy William Burns met with Defense
Minister Shaul Mofaz in an effort to spur revival
of the Middle East peace process, Palestinian
cabinet minister and peace negotiator Saeb Erekat
voiced optimism Monday over an upcoming meeting
between the Israeli and Palestinian prime
Mofaz was to present Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for Near Eastern affairs Burns with the
goodwill gestures Israel is planning to make toward the Palestinians, as well as a plan to dismantle
10 illegal settlement outposts in the upcoming days, at a meeting held between the two on Monday
morning, Army Radio reported.
A military source told Haaretz that evacuation of some of the West Bank outposts would begin during
the coming weekend.
Erekat met Sunday with Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon's bureau chief Dov Weisglass to prepare
the expected Sharon-Ahmed Qureia summit, which
would represent one of the most tangibke
expressions in months of a return to diplomatic
At the weekend, Qureia appeared to be demanding
that Israel halt construction of the West Bank
fence as a pre-condition to talks between the
But Erekat indicated that the talks could go on,
despite Israel's public rejection of the
"The most important thing now is to ensure that
we will prepare the ground on a very technical,
very professional level, in order to ensure the
success of the meeting," Erekat said.
"We are determined to do that, and this
determination was also reflected from the
Israeli side yesterday."
According to Israel Radio, the illegal outposts
to be dismantled include Ma'aleh Shlomo, south
of the Jewish settlement of Karmey Tzur, north
of Hebron, a bus near Karmey Tzur, a shipping
container near Beit Haggai, south of the Gush
Etzion settlement bloc, an abandoned building
near Na'aleh, northeast of Modi'in, and a
structure near the settlement of Kiryat Sefer,
also near Modi'in.
Five of the said outposts consist of only
structures, and the sixth one is currently
inhabited by foreign workers who were recently
housed on the site, near an inhabited Jewish
The Central Command will convey evacuation
instructions to regional brigades, who will in
turn prepare plans to remove the illegal
outposts under their jurisdiction.
The IDF says that since no settlers are
currently living in the outposts, it is
unlikely that large forces will be required for
the operation. The IDF will also hold talks
with the Yesha settlers' council in an effort
to convince settlers to evacuate the unsettled
outposts themselves. The Yesha council has done
so in the past in several evacuation campaigns.
The decision to evacuate was made amid heavy
pressure from the United States government, but
the current decision involves only a small
percentage of outposts. Security sources have
said that there are dozens of outposts that are
completely illegal, which have undergone no
legal registration procedure whatsoever.
Burns, who arrived in the region on Sunday, told
Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom that Israel and
the Palestinian Authority to follow the road
map for Middle East peace plan, which
specifically calls for Israel to remove illegal
Lapid calls for more action to remove illegal
Justice Minister Yosef Lapid on Sunday sharply
criticizing Mofaz for the lack of progress in
dismantling illegal settlement outposts in the
"I have been hearing for several weeks now
promises that the outposts will be evacuated,
but nothing happens," Lapid said. "I hope that
the Israel Defense Forces are more efficient in
other areas. We are losing the battle for world
public opinion, there is even a rift between us
and the United States."
The justice minister added that "It is possible
to ease the blockades on the Palestinian cities
and reduce the number of roadblocks so that the
world does not see Palestinian women dragging
their babies through the dirt."
Mofaz said in response that 43 illegal outposts
have already been removed and that this policy
will continue. He said that the army is
removing roadblocks where possible without
putting themselves in danger.
Defence minister Shaul Mofaz (R) meeting U.S. envoy William Burns at his office in Tel Aviv on
Lucky Mrs. Levy
More than 200,000 pensioners must have been amazed by the huge ads that the New Histadrut labor
federation brought out last week.
By Avraham Tal
The way Ronni Levy, Nir Klinger and Eli Ohana's teams are playing, it's no wonder people are
complaining about the quality of the local game.
By Avi Ratzon
08:59 Geneva Accord nears launch, West Bank Fatah man assails it
10:12 IDF commandos, Shin Bet mount Ramallah raid against Hamas
11:02 Assad: Syria has no pre-conditions for talks on Golan
11:02 Erekat voices optimism over Sharon-Qureia summit
03:43 Haaretz poll: 31% of Israelis back Geneva Accord, 38% oppose plan
09:50 Sharon said suffering from mild case of flu
08:59 Work said underway on new E. J'lem Jewish neighborhood