CAIRO (Reuters) – Egypt has called for a complete Israeli withdrawal from Gaza to the positions they held before the outbreak of the Palestinian uprising in 2000, so that legitimate Palestinian elections can take place on January 9.
“The aim Egypt is working for is to restore confidence and calm so that the Palestinian people in all the Gaza Strip can take part in a legitimate election process under international supervision,” Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said in an interview with Egyptian radio on Monday.
“That can be achieved only by complete Israeli withdrawal from the areas Israeli forces have occupied since 28 September, 2000 (the eve of the intifada),” he added.
The minister said the Israeli military presence in Gaza was a “provocation” perpetuating a cycle of violence.
On Sunday Israeli tanks moved into the northern Gaza Strip and Israel said they were trying to stop cross-border rocket attacks which front-running Palestinian presidential candidate Mahmoud Abbas said achieved nothing.
The thrust into the town of Beit Hanoun began just hours after Israeli forces ended a three-day-long incursion into Khan Younis refugee camp in southern Gaza.
Aboul Gheit said there was no comparison between what Israel was doing and what a small group of Palestinians was doing as a result of what he said was provocations by Israeli forces.
“So the aim is to achieve a ceasefire and a disengagement of forces and an (Israeli) withdrawal, to give a chance for the election of the Palestinian president and a move towards negotiations,” he added.