Home destroyed in Gaza; Sharon backs U.S. '\'roadmap'\', Bush understands Israel fight against '\'terror'\'
Some 10 Israeli tanks backed by helicopters moved into Gaza City early Thursday, witnesses said, and attacked a house. The incursion took place at the Sheikh Ajlin neighborhood in the southern part of the city, the witnesses said. The soldiers destroyed the home of Hamas member, Bader Hassan, who the Israeli army accuses of involvement in shooting and bomb attacks.
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon detailed for the first time Wednesday his proposal for a Palestinian state, covering 40 percent of the West Bank and three-quarters of the Gaza Strip.
"Within the framework set by President (George W.) Bush, Israel will accept the creation of a Palestinian state within non-definitive borders, which correspond to Zones A and B" under Palestinian administration, Sharon said in a speech.
He was referring to a "roadmap" for Middle East peace put forward by the United States and adopted by the other three members of the so-called diplomatic quartet -- Russia, the United Nations and the European Union.
The plan calls for a Palestinian state with provisional borders by next year and definitive ones by 2005. It also calls for an end to Palestinian attacks and an Israeli army withdrawal from reoccupied Palestinian cities.
Sharon said Israel did not plan to keep control over Palestinian areas of the West Bank reoccupied in recent months. "The present reality, in which the IDF (Israeli army) freely operates inside Palestinian cities derives from security demands, and does not represent a political change of status.
"Israel will not return to rule in territories from which it has previously withdrawn," he aired.
However, the Israeli leader set some stiff conditions, which he said the United States would have to demand of the Palestinians, before any diplomatic progress could be made.
Most significantly, he called for a complete replacement of the current Palestinian leadership. He also called for in-depth reforms in Palestinian self-government and free and fair elections.
"Above all else," he said, "all the Palestinian security organizations must be disbanded; most of them are deeply involved in terrorism.
"These organizations report directly to Arafat; they are corrupt down to their core and responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Israelis."
Sharon added that financial control be taken out of Arafat's hands completely.
Sharon called Bush's plan "logical, realistic and feasible."
In Washington, U.S. president George Bush said Wednesday that he understands Israel's attempts to stamp out "terror," and declined to criticize the Israeli government.
"I am concerned that terrorists have disrupted the ability for peace-loving people to move the [peace] process forward," Bush said. "... and so I fully understand the Israeli government's attempts to stamp out terror, because we'll never have peace as long as terrorists are able to disrupt."
He added that he is worried "about the plight of the Palestinian people, concerned about suffering that has taken place as a result of the activities of terrorists." (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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