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Gaza to Remain Occupied After Pullout: Palestinians
GAZA CITY, July26 , 2005 (IslamOnline.net) – As long as Israel keeps control over the crossings and the airspace of the Gaza Strip after its planned "pullout", the area will remain an occupied territory, Palestinians officials and human rights activists have said.
"The Palestinian Authority shall continue to deal with the Gaza Strip as an occupied territory even after the Israeli withdrawal," Palestinian minister of state Ahmed Magdelani told IslamOnline.net Tuesday, July26 .
Under its disengagement plan, Israel is due to pull all its troops and settlers out of the Gaza Strip, home to1 . 3million Palestinians, in an operation beginning in August.
It plans to retain control of the Rafah border crossing between southern Gaza and Egypt and refuses to allow the Palestinians to reopen a mothballed airport in southern Gaza .
Magdelani said Foreign Minister Nasser Al-Qodwa will convoy to the UN, the international community and the Mideast Quartet the PA's conviction that the Fourth Geneva Convention will continue to apply to the Gaza Strip after the Israeli withdrawal.
Many Palestinians believe the impoverished Gaza Strip would become a big prison unless Israel agrees to a "safe passage" into the West Bank as well for a new harbor and the reopening of Gaza airport.
Following talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday, July23 , US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Washington wants a freedom of movement in the Strip following the Israeli pullout.
Essam Younis, a human rights activist, agreed with the Palestinian official.
"The Palestinians should insist on considering the Strip and north of the West Bank as occupied lands, regardless of the details of the Israeli withdrawal from the area."
He warned that Israeli Premier Ariel Sharon's disengagement plan is only meant to legitimize the Israeli annexation of occupied Palestinian lands.
"The military pullout from the settlements in the Strip should be looked at as a completion of the Israeli scheme to grab more Palestinian lands and Judaize Al-Quds (occupied East Jerusalem ).
Israeli Premier Ariel Sharon has promoted his disengagement plan as a bid that would help Israel cement its claim to the larger West Bank settlement blocs.
Mohamed Al-Ghol, the secretary general of the Palestinian Bar Association, called for defining the legal status of the Strip based on details of the Israeli plan.
"Having control over the borders and people are the main principles required to consider the Israeli move as a withdrawal."
The legal expert also demanded an end to the linkage between the Palestinian and Israeli economies.
"When the Palestinians are economically and politically liberated, they would be able to set up their state."
Policy of Ambiguity
The Palestinian minister further accused Israel of adopting a policy of ambiguity over its Gaza plan.
" Israel is deliberately pursuing a policy of ambiguity on its military pullout from Gaza as it wants to turn the Strip into a big prison," Magdelani said.
"The PA has been keen not to deal with the Israeli plan as a withdrawal because the Israeli government has not yet offered clear-cut answers on the issues of passages, airport, harbor and territorial waters," he added.
The official went on: "We have not officially received details on the Israeli plan, which makes the step difficult to classify.
"All we know is that the Israeli government wants to pull out from the Jewish settlements in the Strip, but with no details on the passages and borders."
During talks with Palestinian Interior Minister Nasr Yussouf on July24 , Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz declined to address the Palestinian concerns on the passages and borders.
Palestinian Civil Affairs Minister Mohamed Dahlan also said Rice gave no answers on the fate of passages during talks with Palestinian officials.