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Last Updated: Saturday, 20 August 2005, 22:25 GMT 23:25 UK
Abbas sets out his plans for Gaza
Mahmoud Abbas
Abbas said personal land claims would be settled in court
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has spoken of his plans for Gaza following the closure of Jewish settlements.

He said that the settlement of Netzarim would eventually form part of a seaport for Gaza, and thousands of public housing units would be built in Morag.

Israeli forces are due to resume operations on Sunday to evacuate the few settlements still occupied.

Palestinian militant group Hamas has pledged to continue its armed campaign against Israel after the Gaza pullout.

"Gaza is not Palestine," a spokesman for Hamas' armed wing told a news conference in Gaza City.

The group has said it will maintain its ceasefire during the withdrawal, but the spokesman vowed future "resistance".

"As for Jerusalem and the West Bank, we will seek to liberate them by resistance just as the Gaza Strip was liberated," he said.

Any attack by Hamas could prompt swift Israeli reprisals and damage support for Mr Abbas, says the BBC's Lucy Williamson in Gaza.

Israel has spent five days making a series of swift evictions from settlements around the Gaza Strip, but suspended action for 24 hours from sunset on Friday to mark the Jewish Sabbath.

Land claims

Mr Abbas set out his plan for the territory in a speech to school children in Gaza City.

Neve Dekalim

All land and assets left behind by the settlers would be managed in the weeks after withdrawal by the Palestinian Authority (PA), he said.

He pledged that personal claims would be settled fairly in the courts.

Gaza is one of the most densely populated areas on the planet and the extra land will be welcomed by the Palestinians, our correspondent says.

But Mr Abbas must ensure a smooth handover of territory after Israel leaves, before that process can begin, she adds.

The Palestinian leader has already formed a joint committee to secure the co-operation of Gaza's many political factions.

Thousands of Palestinian security forces have circled the settlements to prevent ordinary Palestinians from trying to reclaim the land individually.

Earlier on Saturday, Mr Abbas said long-delayed Palestinian elections will be held on 25 January 2006 .

Hamas, the militant rival of Mr Abbas' Fatah, is expected to field candidates and to do well.


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