Israel resumes political contact with Palestinians, curbs targeted killings (AFP-FRANCE PRESSE) JERUSALEM, ISRAEL 01/26/05 2:52 AM ET)
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JERUSALEM (AFP) - Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has decided to
resume political contacts with the Palestinian leadership and curtail
its "targetted killings" of militants, a senior official said.
"These political contacts will resume very shortly in the form of
phone conversations and meetings," a source close to Sharon told AFP.
Sharon had ordered a freeze to all contacts with the Palestinian
Authority on January 14 after a suicide attack in which six Israelis
Public radio said that the ties were most likely to resume first
through one of Sharon´s chief advisors, Dov Weisglass, who has been a
regular point of contact with Palestinian officials in the past.
Discussions between Israeli and Palestinian security officials have
already resumed in recent days, allowing the deployment of thousands
of Palestinian police in the northern Gaza Strip to prevent rocket
fire on Israeli territory.
The deployment has been accompanied by a marked lull in violence in
Palestinian security forces in Gaza prevented a cell of militants
from firing mortar shells into southern Israel late Tuesday, seizing
their weapons, a Palestinian security source told AFP.
Contacts were ordered frozen on January 14 after a suicide attack by
Palestinian militants on the Karni border crossing between Gaza and
The move cast a cloud over new Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas´
inauguration the following day as Sharon warned the moderate former
prime minister that he would not be considered a partner in the peace
process if he did not act to prevent further such attacks.
The source close to Sharon said that a second round of security
contacts on Tuesday night had taken place in a "very positive"
atmosphere and should lead to the deployment of more Palestinian
security forces in southern Gaza later in the day.
"This operation is a little more complicated for there will be a
necessity to have a tighter level of coordination in order to put an
end to the smuggling of weapons in the tunnels between Egypt and
Rafah," he added.
Israel has staged a series of deadly offensives in the Rafah region
which it said was aimed at putting an end to the smuggling of weapons
from under the border with neighbouring Egypt.
In addition, the source said that the Israeli army would stop its
policy of targetted killings of Palestinian militants in areas where
Palestinian security forces operate effectively.
"We will not launch any liquidation operations in the areas where the
Palestinian police can ensure calm and security by preventing attacks
by terrorist groups," the official said on condition of anonymity.
"On the other hand, the Israeli army will continue to do everything
possible to intercept anyone who is regarded as a ticking bomb, who
is on the verge of carrying out an attacks if the Palestinians do
nothing to arrest them," he added.
Israel has assassinated a number of senior members of militant
factions such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad during the course of the
last year. (Copyright © 2005 Agence France Presse. 01/26/05)
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