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PA cabinet discusses airport location

Dec. 29, 2009 2:37 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 29, 2009 8:00 P.M.)
Ramallah – Ma’an - The Special Ministerial Committee on the Palestine International Airport briefed the Palestinian Authority Cabinet on its feasibility study during the Monday meeting of the ministers in Ramallah.

The update focused on alternatives for airport locations based on the criteria set out by specialists, and the Cabinet decided on a location between Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley.

The Cabinet further recommended the formation of three committees to represent the government institutions involved in the follow-through of the project. One of the committees will examine the requirements for rehabilitation of the Qalandiya and Gaza Airports. Qalandiya was used by Jordan during its rule over the West Bank between 1948 and 1967, and the airport was annexed to Israel when it occupied the area.

The Rafah airport in Gaza operated from 1998 to 2001, when it was bombed by the Israeli airforce during the second Intifada.

Airport construction is one of the elements in the Plan of the Thirteenth Palestinian government. The document, compiled by appointed Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, aims to build all necessary state institutions in Palestine pursuant to the declaration of a state in 16 months.

During the Cabinet session, ministers also unanimously condemned Israel's Saturday execution of three Fatah members allegedly responsible for the death of a settler rabbi the previous Wednesday. The members also condemned the airstrike on Gaza, which killed three and may have injured a fourth. The death toll for Saturday was the highest since the end of the Israeli war on Gaza.

The deaths came one day ahead of the aniversary of the start of the Israeli war on Gaza, which the cabinet took a moment to mourn during its session. While commemorating the first anniversary of the war on Gaza, the Cabinet reiterated its full commitment toward the Gaza Strip and its population.

Calling for an immediate lift of the siege on Gaza, the Cabinet called for all sides to abide by the 2005 Movement and Access Agreement, and therefore enable the PA to implement hundreds of the Gaza Reconstruction Plan projects currently on hold. The ministers further announced they would continue to seek options at home and from the international community using legal and diplomatic means to guarantee the rights and safety of the people of Gaza.

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