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Friday, February 06, 2004

Olmert explains plan for Gaza to Powell and Cheney

A "more comfortable parking position" for Israel
Voice of America: The Israeli official said there was no sign the Palestinians are ready to engage in a peace dialogue or crack down on terrorism. He said, under the circumstances, the Sharon government feels there is "no need to wait" on action in Gaza.

"What we are interested in is to reduce the level of collision and confrontation, which is a daily event that creates difficulties - that is a source for bitterness and for sometimes unnecessary confrontations - to the inevitable minimum," he said. "And since, at the end of the day, according to the president's vision, according to the agreement of most of the Israelis, Israelis will not remain in Gaza anyway, then we are ready to pull out now when we will be ready for it soon, not as a concession for the Palestinians, but as an improvement of the living conditions of many Israelis."

Mr. Olmert said plans for leaving Gaza, which would include relocating and compensating thousands of settlers, would be ready by the second half of this year, but he gave no indication when actual dismantling of settlements might occur.

He said disengagement from Gaza would put Israel into what he termed a "more comfortable parking position" as it awaited Palestinian readiness to negotiate.