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Palestinian cabinet condemns Israeli settlement expansion

March 11, 2008 9:23 A.M. (Updated: March 11, 2008 9:23 A.M.)
Ramallah - Ma'an - The Palestinian cabinet convened on Monday evening to discuss Israel's decision to build 750 new residential units in illegal settlements in Jerusalem and Giv'at Ze'ev. The cabinet labeled the planned expansion destructive to the peace negotiations and a step that could draw the region further into the cycle of violence.

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad told the cabinet that his talks with the US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, in Ramallah last week focused on the Israeli settlement policy.

A joint Palestinian, Israeli, and US committee aimed at implementing the Road Map peace plan, under the supervision of American General William Frasier will also discuss settlements its meeting, which is scheduled for this week, Fayyad added. He reiterated that stopping settlement activity in Jerusalem would remain a top Palestinian priority and a key requirement for serious negotiations, as Jerusalem is an inseparable part of the West Bank.

The Palestinian cabinet also stated its deep concern about Israel's collective punishment of the Palestinian people in general and Jerusalemites in particular. This punishment includes deportation and deprivation of the right to live in Jerusalem as well as withdrawing their Jerusalem identification cards. Such punishments are often justified on the pretext of security.

The Gaza Strip

The Palestinian cabinet reiterated its calls for lifting the crippling siege imposed by Israel on the Gaza Strip affirming that the Palestinian government will be ready to take charge of the Stip's crossing points.

Security

Interior Minister Abdul-Razzaq Al-Yahya submitted a comprehensive report about security in the Palestinian territories and the efforts to impose law and order. He highlighted that continuous Israeli invasions of supposedly Palestinian-controlled areas pose an obstacle for security plans in the Palestinian territories.

Finances

Salam Fayyad, who is also the finance minister, submitted a report about the Palestinian Authority's financial status. He thanked Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for paying the money they had previously pledged.

Bethlehem economic conference

Palestinian Minister of National Economy Muhammad Hassuna explained in his report that the economic conference in Bethlehem is scheduled to be held in May and that preparations for the conference are ongoing at the local and international levels.

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