2A - The Michigan Daily - Monday, February 21, 2005
Israel prepares for Gaza pullout NEWS IN R
Two large Jewish settlements
near Jerusalem will stay in place
as others are dismantled
JERUSALEM (AP) - Prime Minister Ariel Sha-
ron's Cabinet began charting Israel's future borders
in a historic session yesterday, giving final approval
to a withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and a revised
route of the West Bank separation barrier that would
encompass at least 6 percent of land claimed by the
Palestinians for a state.
With the vote, an Israeli government agreed for the
first time since capturing the West Bank and Gaza
in the 1967 Mideast war to dismantle some of the
dozens of Jewish settlements it has built there. How-
ever, approving the route of the barrier, Israel acted
unilaterally on what was to be a key issue in peace
talks with the Palestinians, and signaled it will keep
a chunk of prime West Bank land close to Jerusalem,
including two large Jewish settlement blocs.
The Palestinians balked at Israel's go-it-alone
approach, but avoided declaring the moves a deal-
breaker in a reinvigorated peace process.
"Israel is creating facts on the ground in the West
Bank," Palestinian legislator Hanan Ashrawi said.
"Sharon wants payback in the West Bank for the dis-
engagement from Gaza, particularly Jerusalem."
The Gaza withdrawal won approval from 17 Cabi-
net ministers, including eight from the moderate
Labor Party, while five ministers from Sharon's rul-
ing Likud Party voted against it.
Sharon, a former settler patron, said the dismantling
of 21 settlements in Gaza and four in the West Bank
is vital for Israel's security. He later signed an order
requiring some 9,000 settlers to leave their homes in
these areas by July 20 or face removal by force.
"Israel has taken a step that will be decisive for its
future ... the right one to ensure Israel's future as a
Jewish and democratic state," he told American Jewish
leaders in Jerusalem. He said the vote proved Israel's
readiness to take "painful steps ... to make peace."
The easy endorsement appeared to be the final politi-
cal defeat for withdrawal opponents, including the pow-
erful Jewish settler lobby. The pullout could still be
derailed if Sharon fails to get his 2005 budget passed by
parliament by the end of March.
"This is a historic decision, but we are facing a
very difficult period," Justice Minister Tzipi Livni
said of expected settler confrontations with troops.
U.S. military bases ma be closed soon
Safe for a decade, military bases in the nited States face an uncertain
The Pentagon plans to shut down or scale back some of the 425 facilities,
the first such effort to save money in 10 years. The downsizing is part of
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's long-term transformation of the
Cold War-era military.
The Pentagon chief argues that closing or consolidating stateside facili-
ties could save $7 billion annually and that the money would be better spent
improving fighting capabilities amid threats from terrorists.
"The department continues to maintain more military bases and facilities
than are needed, consuming and diverting valuable personnel and resourc-
es," Rumsfeld recently told lawmakers.
Shrinking the domestic network of Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine
Corps bases is a certain source of savings. It also is a high-stakes political
fight because it affects local economies in congressional districts.
A Palestinian security officer holds the passport of a Palestinian waiting to cross the border
between the southern Gaza Strip at Rafah refugee camp into Egypt yesterday. Israel eased travel
restrictions, allowing Palestinians age 16 to 25 through the border crossing. Israel imposed the age
restrictions at Rafah to try to lessen the chance of potential attackers crossing there.
Pinchas Wallerstein, a leader of the council of
Jewish settlements, called on supporters to begin
"an aggressive and strong struggle," but to avoid
violent confrontations with Israeli troops.
The militant Hamas group, meanwhile, claimed
victory. Musher al-Masri, a Hamas spokesman in
Gaza, called the Israeli pullout "a result of the
heroic resistance of our people."
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told the Cabinet
thousands of troops would take part in disman-
tling the settlements in a four-stage withdrawal.
The Cabinet has not decided in which order the
settlements will be removed.
In an equally momentous vote, Cabinet min-
isters approved the final route of the 425-mile
separation barrier, but encompassing more than
6 percent of West Bank land, including the large
Jewish settlement blocs of Gush Etzion and
Maaleh Adumim, both near Jerusalem.
Construction of the West Bank barrier began
in 2002 and is one-third complete. Israel said it
needed a shield against Palestinian suicide bomb-
ers and gunmen. The Palestinians denounced the
barrier as a land grab, saying Israel could have
built it on its land. Last year, the world court said
in a nonbinding opinion that the construction of
the barrier is illegal and should stop.
The route originally proposed by army planners
would have sliced off nearly one-fifth of the West
Bank, but large segments were struck down by
Israel's Supreme Court as causing too much hard-
ship for Palestinians.
Bush stresses unity with Europeans*
President Bush sought to repair rocky relations with Europe yesterday, saying
"no power on earth will ever divide us." He urged allies to move beyond differ-
ences over Iraq in the interest of Mideast peace.
"As past debates fade and great duties become clear, let us begin a new era of
trans-Atlantic unity," Bush will say in a speech on Monday. Appealing for aid for
Iraq, he urges the world's democracies "to give tangible political, economic and
security assistance to the world's newest democracy."
Excerpts of his address were released on his arrival here.
Hoping to set a more conciliatory tone for his second term, Bush will meet
over five days with some of his toughest critics: French President Jacques Chi-
rac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, both of whom fiercely opposed
the U.S. led invasion.
LA MPUU, Indonesia
Former presidents visit tsunami ground zero
Former presidents Bush and Clinton traveled yesterday to ground zero of tsu-
nami devastation where they described the destruction as unimaginable and prom-
ised survivors who begged for shelter that more help would come.
On the second day of their relief mission to the region, the two former leaders
flew in U.S. military helicopters from the provincial capital Banda Aceh over a
barren landscape that was once a patchwork of rice paddies, to the village of Lam-
puuk, where the sole structure left standing is a large white mosque.
The village had 6,500 inhabitants before the Dec. 26 disaster. Only 700 remain.
"I've never seen anything like this in my entire life. Ever," Bush said.
As he looked out of the helicopter, Bush said he was counting his blessings. "In
my own heart, I was saying we're very lucky, we're very lucky people not to have
to go through something like this."
Irish: Sinn Fein leaders also members of IRA
In an unprecedented charge, the Irish government publicly identified three of
Sinn Fein's top figures, including party president, Gerry Adams, as members of the
Irish Republican Army command, yesterday.
The government's increasingly confrontational stance indicates it no longer will
tolerate the IRA-linked Sinn Fein's long-held claim that its leaders should not be
held accountable for IRA actions. The shift is intended to force the illegal IRA to
disband or risk the legal Sinn Fein's enforced marginalization in politics.
Seeking to maintain good working relations with Sinn Fein's two key figures, *
successive Irish and British governments had previously declined to identify either
Adams or Martin McGuinness, the party's de-facto deputy leader, as members of
the IRA's seven-member command, called the "army council."
- Compiled from Daily wire reports
U.S. Marines, Iraqi forces look
West of Baghdad for insurgents
Shiites mourn bombing
victims behind safety of
fortified funeral tents
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - After two
days of suicide bombings nationwide that
killed nearly 100 people, U:S. Marines
and Iraqi security forces launched a
joint operation yesterday to crack down
on insurgents in troubled cities west of
Baghdad, as the military announced the
death of another soldier.
In Baghdad, Shiites stung by a string
of bombings attended services in forti-
fied funeral tents in hopes of avoiding a
third straight day of attacks.
Shiite politicians, poised to take
power for the first time in Iraq's mod-
ern history, have vowed not to allow the
bloodshed to begin a civil war, despite
attacks Friday and Saturday that left at
least 91 dead - including a U.S. sol-
dier - and at least 100 wounded. The
attacks came as Shiites celebrated their
holiest day of the year.
In political moves Sunday, Iraq's
major Sunni Arab tribes and politi-
cal parties met in Baghdad to discuss
their roles in the wake of landmark
Jan. 30 elections. The tribes appar-
ently are looking for a role in the new
government and drafting of Iraq's
The Jan. 30 election was for seats in the
275-member National Assembly, which
picks the president and two vice presi-
dents, and drafts a new constitution.
The joint U.S-Iraqi operation was
under way in several Euphrates River
cities in Anbar province, including Hit,
Baghdadi, Hadithah and the provin-
cial capital, Ramadi, where authorities
imposed a curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.,
the military said in a statement.
The 1st Marine Expeditionary
Force said the curfew was designed to
control access into the city and check
for weapons. Ramadi, about 70 miles
west of Baghdad, has long been a cen-
ter of insurgent activity.
Yesterday, the U.S. command
announced that a Marine was killed in
action Saturday during an operation in
Anbar. It gave no other details. At least
1,478 members of the U.S. military have
died since the beginning of the Iraq war
in March 2003, according to an Associ-
ated Press count.
The government said two alleged ter-
rorists were killed in a Feb. 11 raid in
Baghdad. It identified the two as Abu
al-Izz and Adel Mujtaba, known as Abu
Rim, who the government said "dis-
seminated propaganda" for the al-Qaida
leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi,
and created "terrorist Web sites." It did
not name the sites.
At a western Baghdad funeral for the
Shiites killed in Saturday's bombings,
Sattar Wahhab, a 35-year-old worker,
said, "We built barriers, barricades and
we are searching everybody who enters
the funeral so that we do not meet the
fate of my friend."
Although 50 chairs were set up inside
the funeral tent in Baghdad's Bayaa dis-
trict, only 10 people turned up.
On Saturday, eight suicide bombers
struck in a wave of attacks that killed 55
people as Iraqi Shiites commemorated
Ashoura, the holiday marking the death
of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the
prophet Muhammad, in a seventh-century
battle for leadership of the Islamic world.
Similar attacks Friday killed 36 peo-
ple and injured dozens.
Iraqi President Ghazi al-Yawer, a
Sunni Muslim and head of the Iraqis
Party list of candidates that won five
parliamentary seats in the election, was
to attend the meeting with the Sunni
parties and tribes.
Iyad al-Sameria, a senior leader of the
Iraqi Islamic party, a Sunni group that
boycotted the elections, said his party
was not invited.
Iraq's interim national security advis-
er, Mouwafak al-Rubaie, said the recent
suicide bombings were attempts "to cre-
ate a religious war within Iraq. Iraqis
will not allow this to happen. Iraqis will
stand united as Iraqis foremost, and Iraq
will not fall into sectarian war." .
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