posted on Jan, 6 2005 @ 03:46 PM
PARIS (AFP) - French President Jacques Chirac called for the planned Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip to be carried out in line with the stalled
roadmap for Middle East peace.
"Following the Palestinian elections, let us work together to ensure the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip is a success," Chirac told a gathering of
foreign ambassadors at an annual New Year's function. This would require efforts to "fully involve the Palestinian Authority and to help it fulfil
its responsibilities," he said.
"It also implies that the withdrawal be coordinated with the roadmap, which must be relaunched without delay," he said.
"We must immediately persuade the parties to commit strongly" to the revival of the internationally-drafted roadmap, Chirac urged. Foreign Minister
Michel Barnier would be travelling "very shortly" to the region. The peace roadmap, drafted by the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and
the United States, calls for the creation of a Palestinian state alongside a secure Israel by the end of 2005.
Alot of commotion in Middle East today...other major topics include...;
Palestinian leader cancels Jerusalem campaign trip..
RAMALLAH, West Bank, Jan 6 (Reuters) - Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, a frontrunner for the Jan. 9 presidential election, has cancelled plans
for a campaign appearance in Arab East Jerusalem, a Palestinian official said Thursday. Abbas called off the Friday tour because he objected to the
possibility of being seen with Israeli troops around him, and will instead tour a Palestinian town on the edge of the city, another official said.
Israel captured East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it as part of its capital in a move not recognised by the international
community. Palestinians want the city to be capital of a state they seek to build in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Abbas, a moderate running to replace President Yasser Arafat who died on Nov. 11, had planned to visit the Israeli-patrolled Mount of Olives area
on Friday. But instead, he will visit al-Ram town on the northern outskirts of the city less frequented by Israeli forces, officials said. Abbas
pledged in a campaign tour of the West Bank city of Nablus on Thursday where he was thronged by militants and civilians alike, to pursue peace talks
with Israel after the election which he is widely expected to win. He has called on militants to end the violence of a 4-year-old Palestinian uprising
and for militants to curtail rocket attacks on Israeli targets.
"I think the Palestinians have had enough sympathy - it's not sympathy they need, they need someone to act, and that's what I'm trying to do,"
He acknowledged Palestinian concern over the meeting but argued that reforms by the Palestinians were needed first, backing the position of Israel and
the United States.
A Palestinian government official has criticised as illegal an Israeli supreme court decision to bar Palestinian prisoners from voting in Sunday's
"There is no legal basis to this decision. It's illegal and a political decision. This court merely supports the Israeli government's policy in
refusing to let the prisoners participate in this election," the Palestinian minister for prisoner affairs, Hisham Abd al-Raziq, said on Thursday.
Israel's High Court of Justice rejected an appeal filed by Abd al-Raziq that Palestinians held in Israeli jails be allowed to vote in Sunday's
ballot to elect a successor to Yasir Arafat.