COLIN POWELL TRIES TO MOLLIFY ABU ALA
Arafat calls emergency meeting; Abu Ala threatens to resign
JPost : US Secretary of State Colin Powell on Thursday called Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei in an attempt to clarify President George W. Bush's announcements at the joint press conference with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in the White House Wednesday night.
A couple of things: the settlements are not, in fact, illegal - no matter what Abu Ala says - and secondly, since when did the Palestinians have any interest in negotiations?
Powell told Qurei the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and the beginning of the dismantling of settlements are [more?] important than any of the other issues in debate.
Earlier Thursday, Qurei said was considering resignation from his position Bush's endorsement of Sharon's disengagement plan.
Qurei said that President Bush legitimized the Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which according to international law are illegal and have been condemned in the past by the United Nations.
The options that Qurei faces are a sole resignation, a partial resignation of Ministers or a resignation of his whole government.
The Organization of Islamic Conference on Thursday agreed to a request made by PA Chairman Yasser Arafat to hold an emergency meeting to discuss the latest developments in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict following the meeting between Sharon and Bush.
Minutes after Bush's joint press conference with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Qurei had already expressed harsh criticism against the US president's stand.
"He is the first president who has legitimized the settlements in the Palestinian territories when he said that there will be no return to the borders of 1967," he said. "We as Palestinians reject that, we cannot accept that, we reject it and we refuse it."
Qurei said the Palestinians cannot be left out of the process.
"These issues can be determined only through negotiations and cannot be determined through promises from the leader of this or that country," he said. "This can be decided only by the Palestinian leadership."
Palestinian Cabinet minister Saeb Erekat also dismissed Bush's statement. "This is like someone giving a part of Texas' land to China," he told The Associated Press. He said that over the years, US administrations have assured the Palestinians that issues like borders and settlements would be handled in negotiations between the two sides.
For further news of Eurabian sputtering and seething
: "Arafat: Palestinian 'resistance' will continue"
Israel cannot gain security, said Arafat, until there is an independent Palestinian homeland "free from occupation, free from settlements, free from the Israeli siege." [that is, free of Jews]al Reuters
: "Palestinians Urge World to Challenge Bush Policy":
"U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan criticized Bush for ignoring the wishes of Palestinians . . ."International Herald Tribune
: "EU rejects U.S.-Israel move on Mideast borders"
"The European Union will not recognize any change to the pre-1967 borders other than those arrived at by agreement between the parties," the Irish foreign minister, Brian Cowen, said in a statement on behalf of the EU presidency. Cowen said the current international peace efforrt - in which the EU is a partner with the United States, Russia and the United Nations - emphasized that any settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict "must include an agreed, just, fair and realistic solution to the refugee issue."
". . . American policy violates the basic conditions for peace," said Hanan Ashrawi . .
quotes commentary in Al-Hayat al-Jadidah
Bush's statements are strange, bewildering and dangerous. . . The agreement that Bush and Sharon will sign will blow up all peace agreements and drag us back to the age of degeneration and oblivion.
French President Jacques Chirac answers journalists' questions
during a press conference, in Algiers. Israel's unilateral plan to
reshape its borders by withdrawing from the Gaza Strip but
keeping West Bank settlements was 'dangerous,' French Pres.
Jacques Chirac said.
Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia, left, shakes hands with EU
peace envoy to the Middle East Marc Otte
during a meeting with a
European Union delegation at his office in the West Bank village of
Abu Dis Thursday April 15, 2004. Palestinians rejected President Bush's
pledge to Israel on Wednesday that it could keep parts of the West
Bank. Qureia complained that Bush 'is the first president who has
legitimized the settlements in Palestinian territories.'
(AP Photo/Baz Ratner)