If the proposed Israeli withdrawal from Gaza were implemented in the right way, it would open up an unprecedented opportunity for progress towards peace, Terje Roed-Larsen, Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative of the Secretary-General, told the Security Council this morning.
There had been no tangible progress related to the parties’ implementation of their commitments under the Road Map, he stated. It was in that context that Israeli Prime Minister Sharon announced his important initiative to withdraw the Israeli armed forces from Gaza and parts of the West Bank. Ending the occupation of Gaza would be the most important step since the mutual recognition between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO).
For the withdrawal to succeed, he said, each of the parties would have to carry out one crucial task. Israel’s task was to withdraw fully and completely from the Gaza Strip, transferring control to a reformed and reorganized Palestinian Authority, with reliable Palestinian security arrangements supervised by third parties acceptable to both Israel and the Palestinian Authority. There was no way around that task.