Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Friday that Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip is not a gift that Israel wanted to give to the Palestinians, but it is a result of the sacrifice and patience of the people.

Speaking to a crowd at the Gaza International Airport, Abbas promised the Palestinians in Gaza more jobs, freedom of movement and new homes for those whose homes whose homes were demolished by the Israeli military.

Abbas added that removing the settlements that suffocated the Gaza Strip from 38 years was a relief for the Palestinians, and described it as ‘historic days of joy.’

Abbas was surrounded by security guards and the enthusiastic crowd surged toward the stage repeatedly.

The Palestinian Authority could not yet reach an agreement with Israel on operating the closed airport in Rafah. Israel destroyed the runways at the outbreak of the Intifada in 2000.  Abbas promised that the airport will soon resume operation.

The Palestinian leader also promised that 5 percent of government jobs would go to the disabled, many of whom were wounded by the Israeli army.

Abbas vowed to give the younger generations a chance to take part in the decision making process.  Doing so, Abbas addressed a widespread complaint that veterans in his ruling Fatah movement are refusing to step aside.

‘The young people are the future of his country, and this is the time for young people to play a role in life and in the Palestinian Authority,’ Abbas said.