Islamic Jihad slams hostile US statements

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THE statements by American Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on her visits to Tel Aviv and Ramallah are ‘aggressive and anti-Palestinian’, the Palestinian resistance movement Islamic Jihad has said.

Rice described the resistance in Palestine as terrorism and called on the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmud Abbas, to fight it.

Islamic Jihad said that through such a call, ‘the US Administration seeks to cause inter-Palestinian fighting and to torpedo the Palestinian arena.’

But Islamic Jihad added: ‘Rice will be disappointed.’

Commenting on Rice’s recent statements, the official spokesman for the Islamic Jihad in the West Bank, Sheikh Khadir Adnan, said: ‘We, in the Islamic Jihad Movement, believe that Rice’s statements reflect enmity to our people and their resistance, and adopt all Israeli demands.’

He added: ‘The US government wants the PNA to turn into a security tool to safeguard the security of its ally without fulfilling any demand for the Palestinian people.’

Sheikh Adnan concluded by saying: ‘Real reform in the Middle East can be achieved when the Zionist occupation in Palestine and the US occupation in Iraq end, and when US interference in all the political life of Arabs and Muslims in the region is halted.’

Abbas said last weekend that his aim remained: ‘Ending the occupation which started in 1967, establishing a viable and a geographically contiguous Palestinian state, and refraining from pre-empting the results of the final-status negotiations.’

He thanked the American administration for the financial support it had pledged to the Palestinian Authority.

‘We confirmed to Dr Rice our commitment to calm, the democratic march, and continuing this march, being a Palestinian interest,’ he said.

‘We are committed to the full coordination with the Israeli side to guarantee a full and clean withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and areas in the north of the West Bank.

‘I explained to the secretary of state our preparations in this regard.’

Abbas said: ‘We also stressed our commitment to continuing the progress of financial, administrative, judiciary, and security reforms, this being a Palestinian necessity.

‘Violence has considerably declined and we are determined to continue the state of calm to reach the desired state of stability.’

But he said Israel continued to violate agreements, ‘considerably’ harming his efforts to disarm the resistance.

He said the Palestinian Authority had reduced to ‘almost zero per cent’ any statements of ‘instigation’ in the media.

But nevertheless, Israeli settlement activity and the extension of the Israeli apartheid Separation Wall on Palestinian territory continued, changing Jerusalem’s landscape and ‘threatening the entire peace process.’

‘We called for Israel’s implementation of what President Bush described as the need for freezing the activities, removing the settlement outposts, removing internal closures and barricades, and withdrawal to the pre-28 September 2000 borders,’ said Abbas.

‘We also stressed the need to release the prisoners, being a very important issue to push the peace process forward and maintain security.’

Rice said she was visiting the Middle East at President George W Bush’s request.

She said: ‘President Abbas has taken some good, concrete steps towards security reform.

‘But, of course, much more needs to be done, particularly to use actively the security forces to combat lawlessness and to combat terrorism.’

She said that after meeting Israeli leader Sharon she would travel to ‘key Arab states to enlist their support for this process.

‘My trip concludes, some of you know, in London, where the G8 foreign ministers will be meeting.’

Rice also said to reporters: ‘There are a number of issues that need to be coordinated and fully understood between the parties concerning the freedom of movement, concerning access between the different parts of the territories, the disposition of assets, exactly how the various security functions will be performed.

‘These are all issues that will need to be resolved before the disengagement (from the Gaza Strip) begins.

‘One reason that I am here is to encourage the parties to actively now concretely solve these problems.

‘There is no more time to simply put problems on the agenda. This now has to be an active process of resolving these.

‘I know that Minister Dahlan and Defence Minister Mufaz have met and will meet again. I know that Mr Wolfensohn is working with the parties on these issues. So, yes, they are very important and they must be resolved.

‘I am certain I will talk with Defence Minister Mufaz of Israel about . . . the cooperation and support of the Israelis in making sure that the security is there so that the withdrawal is peaceful.

‘Both parties will have to do their parts if this is indeed to be a peaceful and orderly withdrawal from Gaza.’

Abbas said: ‘We discussed with Dr Rice the issue of the calm in general and the Palestinian factions’ commitment to this calm.

‘We will continue to maintain the calm to reach a favourable result whereby everybody will be committed so as to move to other steps after the withdrawal.’

Asked if the US would make contacts with Hamas after their success in Palestinian municipal elections, Rice said: ‘You know that we list and continue to consider Hamas as a terrorist organisation.

‘United States has no contacts with Hamas.’

She refused to respond directly to a reporter’s question about Israeli efforts to enclose the Shuafat refugee camp in Jerusalem and the continued construction of the Apartheid Wall around Jerusalem, insisting that the US would only deal with Mahmud Abbas and the implementation of Israeli leader Sharon’s Gaza Plan.

Later, Mohammed al-Hindi, a political representative of Islamic Jihad, said:     ‘The Palestinian factions have complied with the Cairo agreement, which states that (the calm) is reciprocal.

‘In other words that the calm is not one-sided and we will not accept Israel turning the calm into killing our Palestinian people and aiming a sword at us with the pretext that there is calm.

‘We have a right to defend ourselves, our people and our children.

‘Israel considers the Islamic Jihad Movement outside the calm. It has announced this at the highest Israeli military levels and it is dealing with us on this basis. So, should we remain silent and wait for the Palestinian people to be killed and their land to be confiscated and their Jerusalem to be Judaized?

‘I believe there is no political process. It is clear today from Rice’s visit that there is no political process in the region.

‘There is a series of pressures and an attempt to market Sharon’s plan as a political process.

‘This is a strategic wide-scale attempt to mislead the Palestinian people into believing that this plan is in their interest while the aggression, killing, incursions, building the racial segregation wall and killing our people one by one has continued since the announcement of the calm and until this very day.’

Al-Hindi asked: ‘What about the settlements? Rice did not address this issue.

‘What about Judaizing Jerusalem? What about transferring the US embassy to Jerusalem?

‘She said this issue is subject to consideration in the future.

‘These are very important issues, and certainly more important than the withdrawal from Gaza.

‘We do not know what the withdrawal is, to what extent, and what the situation of Gaza will be after the withdrawal.

‘Therefore, I say that with regard to satisfaction, we are concerned with what is happening on the ground.

‘What is happening in reality is more confiscation of land, continuing to build the racial segregation wall, Judaizing Jerusalem and continuing to kill our Palestinian people.

‘The aggression against our people is continuing every day.

‘We at the Islamic Jihad Movement reiterate that there is no one-sided calm.

‘Our people have a right to confront these pressures and to confront this Israeli aggression, and we will be a lever for the Palestinian people in this regard.’

l Also last Saturday night, at the time of Rice’s visit, Israeli warplanes flew at low altitudes over Khan Younis city in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.

The overflights have created an atmosphere or extreme tension and worry amongst the Khan Younis inhabitants that they could be a prelude to the launch of a new aggression against Palestinian civilians.

Israeli warplanes flew at low altitudes in the sky of the city a short while after reconnaissance planes had flown over it.

An an attack by Zionist settlers on citizens in the Al-Mawasi area in the western part of the city, and the closure of the Al-Matahin and Abu-Huli checkpoints in the central and southern parts of the Gaza Strip were also reported by the Palestinian news agency, WAFA.

The settlers beat and opened fire on Khan Younis residents, injuring many of them.