Berlin welcomes Israeli plansto close settlements
15 April 2004
BERLIN – The German government on Thursday said it welcomed plans by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to close all Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip and some in the West Bank.
Separate statements by Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder spokesman and Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer underlined Berlin view that the move brought a new “dynamic” and “movement” to the Mideast peace process.
There was no comment in either statement on US President George W. Bush’s policy shift Wednesday in which he announced Washington would not object if Israeli kept some settlements in the West Bank.
The move has drawn Palestinian fury.
Neither Schroeder’s statement, issued by his chief spokesman Bela Anda, nor that of Fischer made any reference to Palestinian anger.
“The German government views the Israeli announcement on the removal of all settlements in the Gaza Strip and additional settlements in the West Bank as an important step on the path to implementing a two-state solution…,” said the statement by Schroeder’s spokesman.
Fischer said: “The most urgent task for the international community … must be to use the new dynamic from this decision as well as that from yesterday’s talks between Prime Minister Sharon and President Bush.”
Both Schroeder and Fischer said the US sponsored “Road Map” remained the best chance for peace and called on Israel and the Palestinians to resume negotiations.
Under the road map a Palestinian state is to be in place by 2005 at which time other Arab states are to normalize ties with Israel.