- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 14, 2005

No scorched earth

Israeli Ambassador Daniel Ayalon insists his country will leave behind an “economic infrastructure” for a new Palestinian state when his government withdraws from the Gaza Strip this week, demolishing 3,000 homes of Israeli settlers.

“We are not leaving scorched earth behind,” Mr. Ayalon told reporters in Washington on Friday. “We are leaving behind … an economic infrastructure that provides work for 4,000 Palestinians, with potential to create up to 10,000 jobs that would support 10 percent of the Palestinian population.”

He said the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority agreed on the need to demolish the settlers’ homes and recycle most of the materials for new houses.

Mr. Ayalon said Israel’s goal in turning over the Gaza Strip to the Palestinians is to “boost [Israel’s] security, economy and future” and promote peace.

The disengagement plan “entails considerable economic cost” to Israel, “as well as a series of significant sacrifices required of those Israelis who have made their homes and their livelihoods in Gaza,” according to a review of the withdrawal plan on the Israeli Embassy’s Web site (https://embassyofisrael.org).

Israel has budgeted $2 billion to remove 8,000 settlers from 21 Jewish communities.

Kyrgyz reforms

The ambassador from Kyrgyzstan is pleased with the progress toward democracy in her Central Asian nation that toppled an authoritarian leader and elected a new president in fewer than six months.

“The situation is Kyrgyzstan is not bad after the people’s revolution [in March],” Ambassador Zamira Sydykova said in a briefing at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

She said the country did not “need radical changes” because it had a “strong civil society, strong political parties and a strong press, which gave the opportunity for people to understand their rights and freedoms.”

The March uprising drove President Askar Akaev from power and installed an interim government that was replaced in elections last month that many intentional observers considered mostly free and fair. The interim president, Kurmanbek Bakiev, easily won with 88 percent of the vote.

“We all took part in the revolution,” the ambassador said. “Some people thought there was no alternative to Akaev, but we have many bright political and civic leaders.”

More scandal in Haiti

The U.S. ambassador to Haiti is angered by two recent developments that added to the chaotic political situation there, he said.

Ambassador James Foley last week criticized the interim government for releasing Louis Jodel Chamblain, a leader of the rebellion that ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide last year. Mr. Chamblain also led a paramilitary group that first toppled Mr. Aristide in 1991. The Clinton administration restored Mr. Aristide to power three years later.

Mr. Chamblain was convicted in 1993 of murdering a Haitian businessman. His conviction was overturned, but authorities continued to detain him. The courts ordered his release because there was no evidence to continue holding him.

Mr. Foley also criticized authorities for detaining Yvon Neptune, a prime minister under Mr. Aristide, for political reasons. Mr. Neptune was arrested in June 2004.

The ambassador told reporters in the capital, Port-au-Prince, that Mr. Chamblain “is a man who had been found guilty on several occasions of horrible crimes,” while Mr. Neptune remains in prison without the “least evidence” against him.

“Imagine, for one moment, the tarnished image of Haiti today, with Chamblain being released and a former prime minister who continues to stagnate in prison.”

• Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail [email protected]washing tontimes.com.

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