France hails Israeli cabinet vote on Gaza withdrawal

21st February 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Feb 21 (AFP) - France on Monday hailed the Israeli cabinet's approval of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip, calling the decision "courageous" and a step towards kickstarting the peace process.

PARIS, Feb 21 (AFP) - France on Monday hailed the Israeli cabinet's approval of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip, calling the decision "courageous" and a step towards kickstarting the peace process.

"France, along with its European partners, will spare no effort to ensure that this pullout is a success and that it allows for a true relaunching of the roadmap" for Middle East peace, said foreign ministry spokesman Herve Ladsous.

"This decision, like the liberation of 500 Palestinian prisoners and the return of the Jordanian and Egyptian ambassadors to Tel Aviv, is part of the renewal of dialogue and re-establishment of trust between Israelis and Palestinians, but also between Israel and its Arab neighbors," Ladsous said.

On Sunday, Sharon's cabinet voted 17-5 at a marathon session to begin evacuating 8,000 settlers from the Gaza Strip from July 20, in what will be the first-ever Israeli withdrawal from occupied Palestinian territory.

Also as a result of the vote, Jewish settlers will be forced to leave four isolated settlements in the West Bank.

Israel on Monday freed 500 Palestinian prisoners, busing them to checkpoints in the West Bank and on the Gaza-Israeli border.

Sharon also won endorsement on Sunday for a revised route of the vast separation barrier which the Palestinians fear is designed to pre-empt the boundaries of their promised state.

Paris said the decision to change the route marked "a step in the right direction" but called on Israel to further alter the route so that it abides by a July 2004 ruling from the International Court of Justice.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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