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Quartet On The Middle East

Representatives from the European Union, Russia, the United States, and the United Nations, known as the Quartet, issued a statement welcoming the successful conclusion of Israel's withdrawal from Gaza. The Quartet statement said Israel's "brave and historic decision should open a new chapter on the path to peace in the region." Moreover, the Quartet "paid tribute to the political courage of [Israeli] Prime Minister [Ariel] Sharon and commends the Israeli government, its armed forces and its police for the smooth professional execution of the operation."

U-N Secretary-General Kofi Annan says, "The withdrawal [from Gaza] is an important step towards achieving the vision of two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security":

"For us, the Quartet, it's Gaza first and then the next stage will be [the] West Bank. Not Gaza first and Gaza last. . . .We realize that the Palestinians have to be given hope and a sense of horizon, and that is very much our approach too."

The statement by the Quartet says that while the Palestinian Authority condemns violence against Israel, [the Quartet] further urges the Palestinians "to maintain law and order and dismantle terrorist capabilities and infrastructure."

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says that the "task now is to build on the momentum of that [Israeli] withdrawal to help the Palestinians create in Gaza a model for a Palestinian Authority that can indeed govern":

"We understand that the Palestinian political system is in transition, that it is in transition toward a democratic system, and that that has to be a Palestinian process."

"The messages are clear," says Secretary of State Rice. Ways should be found, she says, "to take the momentum of what has been a successful disengagement from the Gaza to build the institutions that will form the foundation of a Palestinian state and to make the lives of the Palestinian people better."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.