Why is Israel pulling out settlers from Gaza, West Bank?
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Egypt, which had control of Gaza until the 1967 war, has become one of the most important players. It has agreed to send 750 police officers to the 8.6-mile border - the so-called "Philadelphia Route" - between Gaza and Egyptian Sinai. After the Egyptian deployment, the IDF would withdraw from the border. Egypt is also training a Palestinian force to patrol the settlements when Israel leaves. The renewal of Israeli-Egyptian cooperation signals a possible thawing in relations between the two countries.Skip to next paragraph
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The Bush administration is wholly supportive of the disengagement plan providing it's a step toward returning to the road-map for Middle East peace, which calls for a negotiated settlement to the conflict and an independent, democratic Palestinian state next to a secure state of Israel.
The US view is that one of the keys to the success of disengagement is strengthening the ability of Mr. Abbas to wield authority in Gaza after the pullout. In the past year, Palestinian militant groups have launched attacks on the PA's police and security forces, raising the specter of a struggle for power after Israel leaves. To help increase the capability of the PA to exercise control after the disengagement, the US has increased security assistance to Palestinian officials.
US donors are also paying $14 million in compensation for Jewish farmers who are leaving behind Gaza greenhouses that will be taken over by the Palestinians. The money was raised by James D. Wolfensohn, former World Bank president and the Bush administration's current Middle East envoy, who is donating $500,000 of his own money.
Israel has decided to destroy houses, schools, and synagogues in Gaza, but leave behind major infrastructure such as electricity, pipes, and roads.
Israel's decision to demolish the homes was mainly made for two reasons: Israel didn't want to leave behind homes that Palestinians could overrun, loot, or rush to fly the flag of Hamas in a sign of triumphalism.
Also, Israeli officials charged that the relatively large, single-family homes would not go to ordinary Palestinians, but to elite and senior members of the Palestinian security forces. Palestinian officials have agreed that the Israeli homes are not suited for the needs of Palestinians. Instead, Palestinians plan to build high-density apartment buildings in their place.
No agreement has been made yet on who will cart away the rubble after the demolitions, and this, as well as the environmental and financial costs, remains a point of contention.
So far, the parties have not been able to agree on whether there will be some kind of link between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
As part of the Oslo Peace Accords in the mid-1990s some sort of "safe passage" between the two territories was planned for but never implemented. The PA says such a passageway is vital for economic recovery of Gaza. According to Reuters, talks are under way on the construction of a road or rail corridor between Gaza and the West Bank.
The Palestinians also want Israel to underscore that Palestinians can expect a substantial Israeli withdrawal from West Bank territory - where larger Jewish settlements are expanding.
Palestinian and Israeli officials also have yet to come to any agreement on the rehabilitation of the Palestinian airport, the opening of a seaport, and, most important, a clear policy on the movement of goods and people into and out of Gaza.