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Abbas: Chaos in Gaza must end

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GAZA CITY (CNN) -- A day after Israel withdrew its last troops from Gaza, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said all Palestinians have the responsibility "to keep law and order."

In a nationally televised address on Tuesday, Abbas said: "We have one authority and one law and everyone has the responsibility to follow that law and that authority."

Palestinians rushed into former Jewish settlements in Gaza on Monday after the last Israeli troops withdrew. Most of the housing in Gaza had been flattened by the Israelis, but Palestinians set fire to abandoned synagogues and other public buildings.

Palestinian Authority security forces did not move to stop the crowds even though Abbas said the plan was to turn the former synagogues and other public buildings into community facilities for the Palestinians.

However, in his address, Abbas signaled that the cheering and chaos of Monday were over.

"After today, we are not going to hesitate to put an end to all the negative signs and violations of law and order," said Abbas. "We have one law for everyone and no one is above the law. We are not going to tolerate chaos after today."

Abbas announced an ambitious public works program, including the construction of housing for 4,000 Palestinians in the former Jewish settlement of Morag. Abbas said the project will cost about $100 million.

He said new housing would also be built at Rafah on the border with Egypt.

Abbas said he was ready to proceed with the road map for a Middle East peace that has been endorsed by U.S. President George Bush.

That plan calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state living side by side with Israel.

Abbas said the Palestinians people were ready to live alongside the Israelis, but added that the occupation of the West Bank must also come to an end.

"The withdrawal of the occupation army and the settlers from the Gaza Strip doesn't mean in any way that occupation has come to an end," he said in a speech broadcast on Palestinian television.

"Today Gaza, tomorrow the West Bank and (East) Jerusalem," he said, referring to the territories captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon chose to disengage from Gaza, saying that the withdrawal of almost 9,000 Jewish settlers and the Israeli troops who guarded them from Gaza and West Bank would put the onus on the Palestinians to seek peace.

Abbas said the Israeli withdrawal -- which allows the Palestinian Authority to govern 1.4 million Palestinians who live in the narrow strip for the first time in 38 years -- is just the beginning of the process of building a Palestinian state.

Israeli ministers voted Sunday to complete the historic pullout on that day. The Israeli military's departure had been expected in two weeks but was accelerated in recent days.

Israel lowered its flag over Gaza on Sunday, ceremoniously marking the final phase of the disengagement plan.

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