Abbas hails safe passage talks

CAIRO — Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said negotiations with Israel on a safe passage between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and re-opening Gaza airport were going well, according to remarks published yesterday.

By (AFP)

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Published: Mon 11 Jul 2005, 10:52 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 4:38 PM

“The issues of the safe passage, gates and the airport, among others, are still unresolved but everybody is working hard and I am hopeful that results will be reached before the withdrawal starts,” he told the government-owned Egyptian daily Al Ahram.

Israel is set to evacuate 8,000 settlers in Gaza and the residents of four small Jewish enclaves in the northern West Bank in August.

“I was informed yesterday by the Palestinian negotiating team that great progress has been achieved on these matters, though we don’t want to get into details right now,” Abbas added.

“All I’m saying is that God willing, clear results will be achieved,” he said, underlining that Egypt was involved in the negotiations.

The airport in the southern Gaza Strip was heavily damaged by the Israeli army early into the Palestinian uprising and the safe passage closed.

But Israeli media said earlier this week that an agreement had been reached in principle whereby Palestinians will be able to travel between the West Bank and Gaza in convoys escorted by Israeli security forces in the immediate aftermath of the withdrawal.

In the longer term, Israel has agreed to build a railway line which will link the Erez crossing in the northern Gaza Strip and Tarqumiya near the southern West Bank city of Hebron.

Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that the pullout would start on August 17 and should not take more than two weeks, in an interview published yesterday in the English language Jerusalem Post.

Turning to the refusal by the radical Islamic group Hamas to join a Palestinian unity government, Abbas said there might be other ways to bring the movement into the fold.

“We have an alternative which brings together all the Palestinian factions — the follow-up committee in Gaza. The committee may be able to perform the duty (several factions) shun away from when they decided not participate in the government,” he said.

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