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Breakthrough near, says Sharon as Abbas bans weapons (TELEGRAPH UK) 01/28/05)Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005/01/28/wmid28.xml DAILY TELEGRAPH DAILY TELEGRAPH Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
Ariel Sharon, the Israeli prime minister, said yesterday he believed that conditions were right for a "historic breakthrough" with the Palestinians.

Mr Sharon, who has welcomed efforts by new Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, said: "I believe the conditions have been created to permit us and the Palestinians to reach…a breakthrough that will lead us to security and peace."

If the Palestinians worked to "end terrorism, incitement and violence", Israel could be ready to move forward with contacts on the "road map" peace plan to Palestinian statehood, he said.

The Palestinian leadership yesterday banned civilians from carrying weapons and indicated that it would appoint a new interior minister, Nasser Yousef, known for his tough stance against militants.

Palestinian police were preparing to deploy in central and southern Gaza to prevent attacks on Israelis An increased presence was felt in the area as police trained for their new assignments and repaired long-abandoned police posts.

In local elections in 10 areas of Gaza yesterday, Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement, which has been responsible for dozens of suicide bombings, scored some big victories, according to exit polls, defeating Mr Abbas´s Fatah party in three of the four communities polled.

The Hamas victories reflected widespread support in Gaza for the Islamic movement, which provides welfare, schools and kindergartens to the poor.

The weapons ban was a gesture towards Israel and America, which have long demanded the disarming of groups responsible for attacks that have killed more than 1,000 Israelis.

It also sent a signal to Palestinians that the Abbas regime will be based on law and order, and that police will not allow militants to strut in public with their weapons.

The decree noted "the increase in the number of violent crimes because of the chaos of weapons". (© Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2004. 01/28/05)


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