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Palestinian caretaker cabinet condemns settlement expansion, settler attacks

Oct. 6, 2008 5:36 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 6, 2008 5:36 P.M.)
Ramallah - Ma'an - The Palestinian caretaker cabinet condemned on Monday the expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank as well as violent attacks on Palestinians by settlers.

The cabinet condemned Israel's insistence on settlement expansion despite international calls to halt expansion of existing settlements to so called settlement outposts.

Furthermore, the cabinet condemned Israeli settlers who prevented Palestinian farmers them from accessing their fields to harvest olives. Settlers also set fire to trees belonging to Palestinian farmers under the eyes of Israeli soldiers. The cabinet also applauded foreign solidarity activists who aid Palestinian farmers.

In their weekly meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah, the cabinet also allocated funds for a conference celebrating Jerusalem as the Capital of Arab Culture for 2009.

Prime Minister Salam Fayyad reviewed with the cabinet the results of a meeting of donor countries' which was held last week in New York where he headed the Palestinian delegation.

Fayyad also reviewed results of the tour in which he accompanied French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner to Jenin governorate where they inaugurated a number of development projects.

Prime Minister Fayyad also praised the Third Economic National Conference which he opened in the West Bank city of Jericho on Sunday, confirming the Palestinian government's support for private sector.

Minister of Tourism Khulud Deibes reviewed results of an international tourism exhibition held in Warsaw, Poland, which she and a delegation of Palestinians attended.

She also reviewed events of a conference for Christian Indian pilgrims which was inaugurated in Bethlehem on Sunday evening, confirming the government's preparedness to provide facilitate pilgrims' visits the holy land.

The cabinet thanked the people of China for funding construction of new offices for the Palestinian Foreign Ministry, stating that China has "always supported the Palestinians during all stages of struggle to establish a Palestinian state."

The Palestinian cabinet also called on Palestinians to partake in commemoration of 40 days after the death of Palestinian national poet Mahmoud Darwish ar the Cultural Palace in Ramallah on Monday at 5pm.

Jerusalem

The cabinet condemned Israeli assaults on Palestinian Jerusalemites, "denying and violating their inalienable social and economic rights." The cabinet said these violations have increased in connection with increasing settlement activity in Jerusalem. The cabinet also pointed out that Israeli forces have been demolishing Palestinian-owned homes in Jerusalem have set plans to build a Jewish synagogue near Al-Aqsa Mosque. Israelies also carried out excavations under the Moroccan Gate of the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The cabinet appealed to the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference to intervene and protect the Islamic holy places against Israeli threats.

National dialogue

The cabinet expressed appreciation for Egyptian efforts aimed at healing the rift between rival Palestinian factions. It called all Palestinian factions to take responsibility for reuniting the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and ending rivalry which harmed the Palestinian cause.

Prime Minister Fayyad reiterated his call to establish a coalition government composed of technocrats to run the country and prepare for presidential and legislative elections. This government could also ask Arab countries for support to build professional security services and to provide security in the Gaza Strip.

Finances

The prime minister demanded preparation of general budget as soon as possible stressing the importance of passing laws which will enable the government to increase its income. He said these new laws must be adopted before the beginning of the new financial year. He also affirmed that the PA's financial status would be much improved next year. Public sector employees will receive all their accumulated back pay next month, Fayyad said.

Security

Prime Minister updated the cabinet on the security situation in the West Bank, pointing out that "much progress has been made" in that regard. He asserted that his government insisted on imposing law and order despite Israeli incursions and arrest raids which impede the government's efforts. Fayyad condemned those Israeli incursions across the West Bank.
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