Last Update: 08/03/2005 18:30
IDF chief: Palestinian leaders reject terror
By Haaretz Service and The Associated Press

Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon on Tuesday said that the new Palestinian leadership has made the decision not to use terrorism as "a political tool," but warned that the Palestinian Authority must also reinforce the concept of one rule in the territories.


"In the Palestinian arena, a new leadership is adopting a 'state logic' and rejecting terror as a political tool," Ya'alon told participants of the IDF's Second International Conference on Low Intensity Conflict Warfare. But, he added, "the ability of the new Palestinian leadership to develop into a responsible and effective player depends on its ability to advance the policy of 'one authority, one law and one legal bearer of arms.'"

The military chief also said that Israel's strategic goal is to phase out Palestinian labor by 2008.

Israel made the decision in response to more than four years of fighting with the Palestinians, Ya'alon told the security conference. Before the outbreak of violence in 2000, more than 150,000 Palestinians worked in Israel, most in menial jobs Israelis refused to fill.

The Palestinian economy has traditionally relied heavily on work in Israel. During the recent round of violence - when workers were barred from entering Israel - unemployment in the West Bank and Gaza Strip skyrocketed, leading to high poverty rates.

"Our goal is to stop any kind of Palestinian working in Israel by 2008. This is our policy, this is our political directive and this is because of what has happened here over the last four and a half years," Ya'alon said.

However, Israel will allow goods to flow freely through Israel's borders with the West Bank and Gaza Strip, a military official said on condition of anonymity.

Ya'alon encouraged the European Union to provide economic assistance to the Palestinian Authority and help the new leadership produce jobs.

In the meantime, Israel is willing to help the Palestinians reform and train their security forces, as well as share intelligence information about militant groups, Ya'alon said.

"We are ready to share intelligence, to allow them [Palestinian forces] to deploy ... in Gaza. We're ready to allow them to operate in Judea and Samaria," he said, referring to the West Bank. "But they did it so far too slow and not effectively."