Saturday, October 08, 2005

Positive Developments In Palestine

From Associated Press:

JERUSALEM - and the Palestinians were moving toward agreement on new security arrangements for Gaza's border with Egypt, officials from both sides said Saturday, a deal that could allow Palestinian residents of the coastal strip relatively free movement for the first time.

A deal to reopen the terminal will have to address the security concerns of Israel, which fears militants and weapons will reach Gaza more easily without the Israeli inspectors who once operated Rafah.

This concern was underscored in the days following the Israeli withdrawal. Border control broke down and thousands of Palestinians crossed freely in and out of Egypt without any security checks. With few exceptions, Palestinians have been barred from traveling to Egypt since order was restored.

Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom also said Saturday that Egypt is not doing enough to stop the flow of weapons into Gaza and that anti-tank rockets and shoulder-held missiles have reached the area.

"There is no doubt that the situation has improved, compared to the first days, but we still see a relatively free movement (of weapons)," he told Israel Radio.

Egypt and Israel negotiated a security arrangement, including the deployment of 750 Egyptian border guards, ahead of the Gaza pullout.

Under a compromise proposal brokered by international mediator James Wolfensohn, Palestinian travelers and exports leaving Gaza would go through Rafah, with foreign inspectors supervising the traffic.

Incoming goods would be rerouted through Kerem Shalom, an Israeli-run inspection point in the area where Gaza, Egypt and Israel converge.

Wolfensohn told Abbas on Friday that Israel had agreed in principle to the presence of European inspectors, said a Palestinian official who participated in the talks. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to talk to the media.

A senior Israeli official said Israel is open to the idea of foreign monitors on the border and the Wolfensohn plan is "one of the options" under consideration. Israel wants to have access to the terminal's computers to monitor who is entering and leaving Gaza, the official said, declining to be identified because of government rules.

I hope this happens, and soon. It's another step in creating a Palestinian state, which will mean they have to take responsibility for themselves. No more excuses. No more blaming their problems on others.

Here's some more good news:

Also Saturday, the Palestinians broke ground on their first major development project in Gaza since the withdrawal — a $100 million complex that will provide housing for 25,000 people. The development, funded by the United Arab Emirates, was being built on the former Jewish settlement of Morag and was expected to take two years to complete.

That's good. Jobs are being created, and there will be a new, apparently, nice place for people to live. Maybe the Palestinian people can start building some civic pride. That would be a positive step away from taking pride only in sucide bombers