Mofaz to give PA plans of Gush Katif this week

By David Horovitz June 6, 2005

Settlers: Decision endangers us

(With Tovah Lazaroff)

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz will this week hand over to the Palestinian Authority paperwork detailing the location of settlements and settlement infrastructure in Gush Katif to facilitate close coordination with the PA on disengagement.

Mofaz said Sunday that he would be meeting later this week with PA Interior Minister Nasser Youssef to further discuss such coordination, and that in previous contacts Israel had already been advising the PA on such specifics as where to station armed security forces to ensure that the pullout could go ahead calmly rather than under fire.

If, nonetheless, the PA failed to ensure calm and soldiers or settlers came under attack during the pullout, Mofaz said the disengagement would have to be put on temporary hold while the army ‘fights that fire.’

Mofaz was speaking at a briefing organized by the Citizens’ Accord Forum between Jews and Arabs in Israel.

A spokesman for the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip criticized Mofaz for handing over the settlement paperwork to the PA. ‘It endangers the lives of residents of the settlements,’ said Hilik Navon. ‘Terrorists will now have detailed maps showing where everyone lives, including the synagogues. This is an unprecedented step.’

Navon said he saw the move as one more symptom of an irrational policy. Palestinians could fire Kassams at Jewish homes without reprisal, he said, and terrorists could receive maps of their intended targets from the Israeli government. But teens who opposed a policy that endangered lives were sitting in jail.

Mofaz, in his briefing, took a swipe at former chief of General Staff Moshe Ya’alon, who last week warned of an upsurge in terrorism and ultimately war with the Palestinians in the aftermath of disengagement. Mofaz said, without mentioning Ya’alon by name, that people were raising ‘radical scenarios about what will happen the day after.’

In truth, he said, there were ‘lots of possibilities’ and Israel needed to be ‘ready to deal with any and all of them.’

Mofaz hoped that the optimistic ones would come to pass, indicating that by this he meant a situation in which the PA ensured that disengagement passed smoothly and fulfilled its road map obligation to dismantle terrorist organizations and thus facilitate a process toward the negotiation of a permanent accord.

Still, beyond asserting that PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas differed from Yasser Arafat in not seeking to use terrorism as a means for advancing Palestinian goals, Mofaz did not offer many grounds for optimism.

He said Abbas and the PA talked a great deal about their commitment to opposing terrorism but in practice did very little.

On the ground in Gaza, he said, Hamas was growing stronger much more rapidly than the PA and he envisaged a possibility of Hamas becoming the dominant player there.

‘An alternative leadership is rising up,’ he said, ‘under the noses of the PA.’ Hamas had ‘a people’s army’ and was bringing in weapons, he said. All its men were now armed and were being trained and the PA’s security forces were not stopping this training.

The PA’s failure to impose control in Gaza and the West Bank was preventing Israel from taking further confidence-building measures, he added. For six months, he said, Israel had been ready to relinquish control of additional West Bank cities. Its only preconditions, he said, related to PA policy on Palestinians wanted by Israel.

If the PA were to make these men sign documents promising to eschew terrorism, if they gave up their weapons and if they agreed to stay within specified areas, he said, Israel would be prepared to hand over control of specific cities.

Mofaz said that Abbas and other key PA leaders had personally promised him that such steps would be taken, but in practice nothing had happened, and so the handover was still being delayed.

‘We’ve gone further than ever on confidence-building measures,’ Mofaz said, and yet the PA was still failing to dismantle the terror organizations.

And now, said Mofaz, there was a discernible increase in terrorist alerts – with warnings now running at much the same level as a year ago. Israel was keeping open the Karni and Erez crossings to and from Gaza for humanitarian reasons, he said, even though there were warnings of plans for terrorist attacks there.

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