Committee on International Relations
U.S. House of Representatives
Henry J. Hyde, Chairman

CONTACT: Sam Stratman, (202) 226-7875, September 20, 2005

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Middle East Peace & U.S. Priorities
Ros-Lehtinen Schedules Wednesday Hearing
to Examine Peace Process after Gaza Disengagement 

BACKGROUND: In a speech on December 18, 2003, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon stated that Israel would unilaterally disengage from the Palestinians by redeploying forces and relocating settlements, if the Palestinians did not act against terrorists and fulfill their commitments under the Road Map.  After some revision, the government approved a plan to withdraw from all 21 settlements in Gaza and four small settlements in the northern West Bank and from military installations protecting them.  Following withdrawal, the plan called for Israel to continue to guard the land perimeter of Gaza, to have exclusive authority over its air space, and to engage in security activity in the sea off the coast of the Gaza Strip.  Israel’s disengagement from the Gaza Strip began on August 15th and ended on September 12th, after the Israeli Defense Forces finished evacuating its bases and personnel in Gaza.  In an August 27th radio address, President Bush called Israel’s removal of settlements in Gaza and part of the northern West Bank “a courageous and painful step,” and stated that the Palestinians must next “show the world that they will fight terrorism and govern in a peaceful way.”  He said that the U.S. would continue to help them prepare for self-government and “defeat terrorists who attack Israel and oppose the establishment of a peaceful Palestinian state.”  Palestinian leader Abu Mazen has announced that legislative elections will be held on January 25, 2006.  In response to his announcement, this hearing is being convened to address issues surrounding post-disengagement policies, activities, operations, and programs relating to Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip.    

WHAT:                             Subcommittee Oversight Hearing:
                                          The Middle East Peace Process and U.S. Strategic Priorities Post-Disengagement
                 
                       
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chair

WHEN:                             2:00 p.m., Wednesday, September 21, 2005

WHERE:                           Room 2172 Rayburn House Office Building

WITNESSES:                   C. David Welch,
                                           Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, U.S. Department of State; and
                                           Lt. General William E. Ward
,
                                           Deputy Commander, United States Army Europe, U.S. Coordinator for Security to the Palestinians

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