Da Ha'aretz del 09/03/2005
Originale su http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/549609.html

Agreement reached on handover of Jericho and Tul Karm to PA

di Amos Harel, Arnon Regular

Israel and the Palestinian Authority agreed last night that in the coming days Jericho and Tul Karm will be handed over to the PA to enable it to take over security in those two cities.

In a two-hour meeting at the Erez junction between Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, the two men decided that the actual timetable for the handover would be determined today by a joint committee of Israeli and Palestinian officers.

Abbas said the PA expects that the area to be handed over will include the outlying villages around the cities, and not just the cities themselves. He also demanded that the checkpoints on the roads to the cities be lifted. The issue of the villages and the checkpoints held up the transfer of Jericho a few weeks ago, until the Islamic Jihad suicide bombing in Tel Aviv froze all political-level contacts between the sides.

Mofaz said that the negotiations between the sides must proceed cautiously and "step by step," with the security of Israel's citizens "the uppermost priority for us." He demanded the Palestinians take more action to disarm the terror groups and arrest activists.

Palestinian sources expressed some disappointment after the Mofaz-Abbas meeting that Mofaz has so far refrained from meeting with Gen. Nasser Yusuf, the new interior minister in the PA, responsible for all PA forces and the effort to reform the PA armed services. They said that the atmosphere in the meeting with Mofaz was "difficult" and that Abbas "exposed himself to criticism for meeting with Mofaz instead of Sharon, and with results that do not markedly improve the Palestinian situation."

Israeli sources said that Jericho would probably be handed over today and Tul Karm on Sunday - and that Mofaz promised that checkpoints would be lifted in the West Bank and more permits would be handed out for workers and merchants to enter Israel.

"It will be difficult to advance on the political plane if there is no security for Israeli citizens," he said at a news conference after the meeting.

Mofaz said there will be joint activity by Israeli and PA forces. "They will do the best they can, and our forces will operate where necessary," he said. Mofaz promised more freedom of movement for the Palestinians, "to enable more normal lives for the population." The two sides also agreed on renewal of the various joint security-related committees, including the one dealing with prisoner releases. The five committees were suspended by Israel after the late February terrorist attack in Tel Aviv.

At the meeting slated for today to discuss the handover of the two cities, Brig. Gen Gadi Eisencott, commander of the IDF forces in the West Bank, is expected to meet with Gen. Haj Ismail, the commander of Palestinian forces in the West Bank, although the meeting could take place on a lower level, with regional division commanders from both sides.

Meanwhile, Hamas has apparently finally decided that it will take part in the upcoming Palestinian parliamentary elections in July. The organization has been considering the possibility ever since the death of Yasser Arafat in November. Gaza activists wanted to take part, while the overseas leadership based in Damascus was opposed. Now, Damascus appears to have lined up with the Gaza leadership.

Intelligence sources in Israel say that the decision could have an influence on the organization's terrorist activities. The prevailing intelligence assumption is that the organization will want a period of relative quiet during the campaign.

Another round of talks between PA officials and all the Palestinian factions is scheduled for Cairo next week. The PA, with Egyptian help, hopes to reach an agreement for a cease-fire vis a vis Israel, or at least for a long-term "lull."

Palestinian security sources say they are optimistic about the chances for that kind of an agreement, and said that the factions are leaning toward the PA's position. But Israeli sources expressed skepticism that the sides are close to an agreement on the cease-fire.

Sullo stesso argomento

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In biblioteca

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