Erekat: Hopes Israel Will Destroy Towns in Judea, Samaria
by Chana Ya'ar
Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erekat expressed the hope Saturday that Israel will ultimately end up destroying Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria, as it has in prior pullouts from other regions.
“When Israel decided to strike peace with Egypt it tore down settlements in Sinai,” Erekat pointed out in an interview with Jordan's al-Dustour
newspaper, published Saturday. “When it decided on a unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, it tore down settlements in Gaza.”
Many of the residents of Yamit -- one of the Jewish communities destroyed in the pullout from Sinai -- were re-traumatized a second time during their forcible expulsion from their homes
in Gush Katif in 2005. Nearly 10,000 Jews were left homeless after the withdrawal, many of whom are still without permanent housing or jobs today, five years later.
Nevertheless, Erekat warned that nothing less would be demanded in any final status agreement reached on a new PA country. There are more than a quarter of a million Jews living in Judea and Samaria at present.
“I hope Israel knows that peace in the West Bank will demand it does so again. Peace and the settlements are two parallel lines that do not meet,” he said.
Erekat some pessimism about the future of the direct talks between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, accusing Israel of procrastination.
The PA negotiator also said that Abbas had so far rejected all proposals offered by Netanyahu. One of those, said Erekat, had been the formation of 12 committees which would each address a different issue of the peace process.
Israeli media adviser Nir Hefetz, however, denied in a statement that such a proposal had been made. “Nothing of the kind has been suggested,” he said. “On the contrary – Prime Minister Netanyahu offered the Palestinians to hold accelerated talks, once every two weeks, and in between, to have smaller, discreet meetings in order to seriously and responsibly pursue a peace agreement. The prime minister explicitly said that he believes what is necessary now is leaders' decisions not a multitude of advisers.”
Netanyahu and Abbas are scheduled to meet a week from Sunday for a second round of direct talks, together with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Special Middle East Envoy George Mitchell.
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IDF responds to Kassam, West Bank shootings
By JPOST.COM STAFF
Air force bombs three smuggling tunnels in the Gaza Strip meant to help kidnap and attack Israelis; Palestinians: One dead, one injured, one missing.
IDF bombed smuggling tunnels in the Gaza Strip on Saturday night, IDF spokesman reported.
The bombing was a reaction to the Hamas shootings in the West Bank earlier this week, and the kassam rocket fired into Israel from Gaza hours earlier.
The army said it struck two tunnels leading to Egypt, and one that led to Israel, and was used by Hamas terrorists planning to kidnap and commit terror acts against Israeli soldiers and civilians.
A Palestinian was killed when one of the smuggling tunnels collapsed, after the bombing, AFP reported.
According to Palestinian sources, quoted by AFP, one person was severely injured, and another is missing.
This was the first IDF act in Gaza since Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
relaunched peace talks in Washington on Thursday.
On Saturday morning, a Kassam rocket launched from Gaza exploded in the southern Israel Negev area on Saturday morning. There were no reported injuries.
Aharonovich: Closing In on Highway 60 Terrorists'
by Chana Ya'ar
Public Security Minister Yitchak Aharonovich has announced that security forces are closing in on the terror cell that was responsible for murdering four Jews last week on Highway 60.
The four residents of Beit Hagai were shot to death by Hamas terrorists who ambushed them as they drove past the Bani Nayim junction, located between the Jewish communities of Pene Hever and Kiryat Arba/Hevron.
At an event held Saturday in Holon, Aharonovich said that Israel “must fight Hamas in all possible ways. But we cannot change our policies after each terrorist attack. Police and security forces will give their full support to all political decisions.”
He added, “I cannot go into the details, but we are close to capturing the terrorists that carried out the attack last week.”
The minister added that the negotiations taking place in Washington D.C. Between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas are facing numerous obstacles, not the least of which are efforts by terrorists to sabotage the process.
“Like everyone, I want to believe there will be peace,” he said. “With that, we received several reminders last week about the difficult reality, with the terror attack and attempted attacks” -- a reference to the second attack that followed Tuesday night's murderous attack, a scant 27 hours later, Wednesday at approximately 11:00 p.m. A Jewish man and his wife were injured – the man seriously wounded – when Hamas terrorists attacked them in a second ambush on Highway 60 north of Jerusalem near the Rimonim junction, in the Binyamin region.
“We find ourselves in a complicated period, and there are forces that will try to impede our progress,” Aharonovich said.
Netanyahu and Abbas meanwhile agreed in Washington to resume direct talks a week from Sunday in Sharm el-Sheikh, together with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Special Mideast Envoy George Mitchell.
Netanyahu and Abbas agreed at the end of their talks in Washington to try to resolve all final status issues within one year. Sources said the prime minister did not rule out calling a general referendum to vote on any deal that might be reached at the negotiating table.