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A Look: Israeli, Palestinian Compliance (AP) 07/28/03 3:36 PM) Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A57695-2003Jul28.html
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A look at how Israel and the Palestinian Authority are faring in carrying out the main points of Phase I of the "road map" peace plan, which is meant to be completed by year´s end:
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- At a June 4 summit with President Bush and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon declared "a democratic Palestinian state fully at peace with Israel will promote the long-term security and well-being of Israel as a Jewish state."
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- Israel has dramatically scaled down military actions and arrests of wanted militants and halted targeted killings of terror suspects, in line with the plan´s requirement that it take "no actions undermining trust."
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- The road map calls for Israel to immediately dismantle the 100-odd settlement outposts, all either unpopulated or housing a few people, established in the West Bank since 2001. About a dozen have been dismantled in well-publicized scuffles between troops and settlers, but a similar number have gone back up.
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- Israel is supposed to freeze all construction in the 150 veteran Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, where about 220,000 settlers live; the move is politically and ideologically tough for Sharon, an architect of the settler movement, and it has not been carried out or even discussed.
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- The road map calls for Israel to take "all necessary steps to help normalize Palestinian life"; in a first step in this direction Israel removed a few West Bank checkpoints this week, but dozens remain.
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- Israel is to withdraw "progressively" from Palestinian autonomous zones occupied since fighting erupted in September 2000;" so far it has pulled troops out of parts of Gaza and the West Bank town of Bethlehem, and has promised the return of two more of the six major West Bank towns it holds.
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- Abbas was appointed Palestinian prime minister, sharing power with Yasser Arafat as part of required reforms in the Palestinian Authority.
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- At the June 4 summit, Abbas declared "the armed intefadeh must end, and we must use and resort to peaceful means in our quest to end the occupation and the suffering of Palestinians and Israelis."
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- The road map calls for "sustained, targeted, and effective operations aimed at ... dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and infrastructure (including) confiscation of illegal weapons." Abbas and his government have made clear terror attacks should stop, but so far only a few weapons have been taken, and the Palestinians argue that as long as the militants - who declared a truce June 29 - are not attacking Israelis, they should be given time to disarm them by persuasion. Israel says it cannot move forward decisively until militant groups are gone.
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- The Palestinians want Israel to release the estimated 7,700 Palestinian prisoners it holds - an issue not in the road map. Israel says most are held for terrorist activity, but the Palestinians say at least 3,000 would pose no security risk and, in any case, a mass release would help Abbas win points with his public. Militant groups say they will resume attacks unless prisoners are freed. In a bid to ease the pressure, Israel has released about 250 prisoners and is preparing to hundreds more in coming days.
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- The Palestinians demand Israel halt construction of a huge security barrier meant to separate most of the West Bank from Israel; Israel says it is needed to stop suicide bombers, while the Palestinians are upset that it veers deep into the West Bank in some areas and could amount to a permanent land grab. Bush has said the barrier makes it "difficult to develop confidence" between the sides.
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- Sharon and Abbas have held a series of meetings in Jerusalem, leading to few breakthroughs but restarting a relationship between leaderships who had not met for years. On July 1, Israeli and Palestinian Cabinet ministers shared a dais and stunned the two sides´ publics with smiles and warm conversation.
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- Phase II, to begin next year, includes option of Palestinian state with "provisional borders and attributes of sovereignty." Arab nations restore relations with Israel to pre-fighting level.
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- In Phase III, in 2005, an international conference oversees negotiations on "final status" issues: borders, Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees and Jewish settlements - with a peace treaty by 2005 leading to comprehensive peace between Israel and the Arab world. (© 2003 The Associated Press 07/28/03)
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