Rice Urges Moves On Gaza Pullout Plan

Sky News
Date: 06-18-05

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has urged Israel and the Palestinians to step up efforts to co-ordinate Israel's pullout from Gaza.Ms Rice was speaking after talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah."Both parties will have to do their part if this is indeed to be a peaceful and orderly withdrawal from Gaza," she said.

"I've talked extensively with the Palestinians about the need for co-ordination. I will talk extensively with the Israelis about it."

Washington sees an orderly evacuation of Israel's 21 settlements in Gaza as vital to renewing peace moves.

Israeli and Palestinian officials met recently to discuss pullout issues but have yet to put together any plan.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon insists calm is essential for carrying out a withdrawal of 9,000 settlers from settlements in Gaza and a corner of the West Bank under a plan he has billed as "disengagement" from conflict.

Under interim peace deals, Israel controls Gaza's airspace and borders.

Palestinians, calling for the reopening of Gaza's airport and establishment of a safe passage to the West Bank, fear they will largely remain confined to the narrow coastal strip after Israel evacuates all 21 Jewish settlements.

Ms Rice will now meet Mr Sharon in Jerusalem, two days before he is due to hold a summit with Mr Abbas



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