kramadas Posted August 1 Report Share Posted August 1 http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/A/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1059626411180Aug. 1, 2003Government issues tender for 22 Gaza homesBy MATTHEW GUTMANIn a move that sparked an angry protest from the Palestinian Authority, the government published a tender for 22 housing units in the settlement of Neveh Dekalim, in an apparent violation of one of the agreements in the road map. The first issuance of housing tenders in the Gaza Strip in over a year follows what sources close to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon called his "most positive" trip to the Washington, in which he promised to begin dismantling illegal outposts in the West Bank. Palestinian sources fear the move could scuttle the tenuous agreements based on the road map, possibly reigniting the violence. "This is a very dangerous step taken by the Israeli government," said Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a senior aide to Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat. The first stage of the road map initiative calls for a freeze on "all settlement activity (including natural growth of settlements)." The statement comes on the heels of a developing rift between PA Minister for Security Muhammad Dahlan and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz over the PA's demand for an immediate Israeli evacuation of Ramallah. A security source said Thursday that the chances of Mofaz agreeing to withdraw from Ramallah instead of Jericho and Kalkilya the cities Israel offered to leave are "virtually nonexistent." The Israel Lands Administration responded that the tenders were issued legally and "with all the necessary permits, and with the consent of Defense Minister Mofaz." The publishing of the tender sent somewhat stunned Israeli government officials scurrying for an answer. A government official responded that what might be considered a slight Israeli aberration from the road map pales in comparison to the complete failure of the Palestinians to "fulfill even the first sentence of the road map, which calls for the dismantling of the terrorist infrastructure." The source added that Jerusalem does not believe the incident will adversely affect Israeli relations with the US. Yet the PA is likely to exert pressure on the Americans, the initiators of the road map, to block the continuation of the project. "From here on out any talk of the hudna [cease-fire] is a ridiculous joke... It is about time for the Americans to move and put more pressure on Israel to show that they mean business," said Elias Zananiri, a Dahlan aide. Zananiri expressed bewilderment that Israel could undertake such an initiative at such a sensitive moment in negotiations between the two conflicting sides. "This kind of decision only fortifies the position of the radicals," he said in reference to the Palestinian terrorist groups. Responding to the furor among the Palestinians and the Israeli left, Gaza settlement spokesman Eran Sternberg shot back, "What, do they want us to start having mass abortions?" The settlement watchdog group Peace Now targeted not the settlers but Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who it charged "has no intention to withdraw from the territories but instead to dig the State of Israel deeper into the West Bank and Gaza." According to Sternberg, the tenders had first been issued five years ago, but there were no takers. The tenders then sat dormant in the Israel Lands Administration until Thursday morning, when they were republished with the support of the Gaza Strip Local Council and the town of Neveh Dekalim. Sternberg dismissed claims that the tender was politically motivated, adding that the "housing crisis here is real especially considering an increased interest in Neveh Dekalim and has caused overcrowding." Twelve local families hoping to move into more spacious accommodations have already snapped up an equal number of lots. "We refuse to live under the rules of any American White Paper," he added, in reference to the 1939 British policy that severely restricted the immigration of Jews from Nazi Europe into what was then Palestine. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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