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Quartet: Pullout Improves Palestinians’ Lives

Israel’s plan to withdraw troops and civilians from Gaza this summer will lead to a better life for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, said Quartet envoy James Wolfensohn.

The sponsors of the Road Map asked Wolfensohn to draw up an economic-support plan by the end of September.

He said it is important the Palestinians believe that Israel’s pullout from the Gaza Strip and four communities in the north of the West Bank is “not just another political game.”

Israel plans to begin evacuation of communities on August 15.

Wolfensohn was speaking to reporters after meeting with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud ‘Abbas and other Palestinian officials on Saturday.

He was discussing how best to allocate some $3 billion raised from the international community to rebuild Gaza following the Israeli pullout.

Meanwhile, Israeli opponents of the withdrawal are planning the next protest step against pullout. They intend staging a massive protest on Tuesday in Sderot, an Israeli town near the Gaza Strip which has been bombarded with Qassam missiles from the Gaza Strip.

Israeli security authorities fear protesters will continue from there to Gush Katif in Gaza in order to hamper the pullout.

The Jewish enclave in Gaza has been closed off to non-residents unless they have been granted permission.