THE PALESTINE Media Centre reports that ‘The Israeli Knesset on Monday approved a speech by the Prime Minister Ariel Sharon that vindicated his “defense” minister’s remarks on Friday, which ruled out a Palestinian state or even an “interim accord with the Palestinians in the foreseeable future, thus dooming any peace prospects according to the Quartet-drafted and UN-adopted “roadmap” peace plan.’
The centre adds: ‘Sharon disagreed on Sunday with the comments by his “Defence” Minister Shaul Mofaz that peace would be impossible with the current Palestinian leadership and “generation,” saying: “This is not the right approach.”
‘However Sharon’s speech, which the Israeli lawmakers approved on Monday, discredited his “disagreement” with Mofaz as verbal and mere rhetoric.
‘His declaration on Monday that Israel was committed to the “roadmap” was also verbal and mere rhetoric. Sharon indicated that the Israeli commitment to the “roadmap” was conditional on the fourteen Israeli reservations approved by his Government.
‘ “The Government’s policy aims for implementation of the roadmap, including the fourteen Israeli reservations, as approved by the Government,” Sharon told the Knesset.
‘The Knesset’s approval of Sharon’s speech was an approval of unilaterally dictating to the Palestinians and pre-empting the final status negotiations by planning more facts on the ground.
‘Sharon reiterated budgetary plans to expand the Jewish colonial settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), mainly in what he described as “Greater Jerusalem” and the Jordan Valley.
‘The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) swiftly condemned Sharon’s plans as the very antithesis of peace.
‘ “Final status negotiations are the only way. Peace and settlement activity are incompatible,” said the head of the Negotiations Affairs Department of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) Saeb Erekat.
‘ “We are asking the international community to pressure Israel to stop all violations, aggression and settlement activity,” Erekat said.
‘Sharon stated that the government will have new priorities in its 2005 state budget: “Greater Jerusalem” is a top priority, he said.
‘The “Greater Jerusalem” plan includes expanding settlements around Jerusalem, and other plans such us linking Maali Adumim settlement with Jerusalem, which will obstruct the geographical unity and contiguity of the Palestinian areas, and further annexation of Palestinian lands east of the city.
‘ “This plan will constitute a prototype for the Government’s changed order of priorities which gives preference to the Negev, the Galilee, and Greater Jerusalem,” Sharon said.
‘ “I have not mentioned all the places, but I know the Knesset and I am aware of the fact that there are always ‘traps’, so I would like to add that I certainly refer to the Jordan Valley, the settlement blocs, the security zones and the Golan Heights,” he added.
‘He added that Israel’s Wall of Annexation and Expansion is another top priority. The Wall is better known to the Palestinians as the Apartheid Wall, but dubbed a “security fence” by the Israelis.
‘ “We will also continue in full force to build the security fence, without any budgetary, implementation or political restrictions. The outline of the fence is determined by security considerations, under legal examination, with the purpose of providing maximum security on the one hand, and minimum harm to Palestinian civilians on the other,” Sharon told the Knesset members.
‘The International court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague in July 2004 ruled that the Wall was “illegal.” The United Nations General Assembly adopted shortly later the ICJ’s ruling.
‘The Israeli premier also reiterated his government’s insistence on instigating a Palestinian civil war by making the disarming of the Palestinian anti-occupation groups a precondition for pursuing the peace process with the PNA.
‘Sharon addressed the opening of the first parliamentary session after a weeklong Israeli disproportionate retaliation to an individual bombing that claimed the lives of five Israelis last week, in a “retaliation” that destroyed water, road and power infrastructure in the Gaza Strip and claimed the lives of 13 Palestinians, including six anti-occupation activists whom the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) had extra-judicially killed.
‘ “The demand for the Palestinians to wage a real war on terror cannot be circumvented,” Sharon said in his “state of the nation” speech.’
Meanwhile, Palestinian President Abbas said on Monday: ‘We have asked the Americans and the Israelis: “In what direction are you moving? If you want destruction, then this path leads to destruction, but if you want peace, then the other path leads to peace.”
‘Moreover, I told them that they were rewarding people who do not want peace.
‘If there are people who do not want peace or calm, then, by boycotting us, they are actually rewarding them.
‘So I told them please stop this and return to the negotiations.
‘They informed us that such acts would stop. I pray that such acts will stop and will not be repeated.’
At the same time, Palestinian radio reported: ‘A force of occupation soldiers conducted incursions into several districts of Nablus city at an early hour of the morning today, and arrested two young men.
‘Our correspondent said that the occupation forces tightened their military arrangements in the peripheries of the city and closed the eastern area of the city and isolated it from the neighbouring areas.
‘Occupation forces have continued their stifling siege of the Tulkarem Governorate.
‘Our correspondent reported that the occupation soldiers erected more military checkpoints on the main and secondary roads leading to the governorate.
‘They also prevented farmers from going to their farms.
‘The Israeli occupation forces also arrested citizen Ma’mun Umar Qatish from the town of Azzun, east of Qalqiliyah, after storming the town and besieging his home.
‘Our correspondent reported that the occupation forces opened their machine-gun fire indiscriminately before arresting citizen Qatish.’
The radio added later: ‘The Israeli occupation forces have assassinated citizens Jihad Hasan Zakarinah, 29, and Arshad Ahmad Ikmayyil, 21, after besieging a house in which they were staying in the town of Qabatiyah in the Jenin Governorate.
‘The (PNA) Ministry of Interior and National Security condemned the assassination of the two citizens in Qabatiyah and described it as a criminal aggression that, by targeting our people’s sons, represents the height of state terrorism.’