Palestinians demand Israeli concessions, Israel ready to comply (ISRAEL INSIDER) By Israel Insider staff and partners 01/29/05)
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Palestinian militant groups are very close to reaching a political
accord with new leader Mahmoud Abbas that would include a formal halt
to violence against Israel, a senior Palestinian official said
Saturday, but Israeli concessions will be necessary to seal the
agreement. A senior Israeli defense official said the government was
willing to make significant concessions on security to show
flexibility and so the "seedling" of warmer relations
Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath said representatives of the
militant groups, which include Hamas and Islamic Jihad, will travel
to Cairo in the first week of February. The talks with Egyptian
security officials are aimed at securing an end to hostilities
against Israel within the framework of a Palestinian national accord.
Shaath was part of a delegation led by Abbas that met with Egyptian
President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo on Saturday. "I think we are very
close to a national agreement," he said.
However, he said, Israel must formally accept the cease-fire,
withdrawal its troops from West Bank cities and release Palestinian
prisoners for the Palestinian groups to move forward with the accord.
"All of these measures will help to cement the cease-fire," he said.
Israeli official: Ready to concede on security
Israeli security officials are ready to make significant concessions
to the new Palestinian leadership to promote efforts to end more than
four years of fighting, a top Defense Ministry official said
The comments by Amos Gilad, a senior adviser to Defense Minister
Shaul Mofaz, came ahead of a flurry of meetings meant to pave the way
for a summit of the Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
"The entire defense establishment is in full agreement that there is
now an opportunity that must be taken advantage of," Gilad told
Israel Radio. "All necessary steps, whether it will be security
concessions that will reduce levels of friction, we will show
tremendous flexibility toward every subject on the agenda to try and
Palestinian officials say the summit between Israeli Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, tentatively
scheduled for the second week of February, will depend on the success
of this week´s preparatory talks. The Palestinians are looking for a
formal cease-fire declaration from Israel and a large-scale release
of prisoners held by Israel.
Abbas has already won an informal commitment from Palestinian
militants to halt attacks on Israeli targets, and deployed thousands
of police throughout the Gaza Strip to ensure quiet. Israel, in
return, has halted offensive operations in Gaza and scaled back
activities in the West Bank.
Israel, which accused Abbas´ predecessor, Yasser Arafat, of
encouraging violence, is pleased with the new Palestinian leadership,
Gilad said. He said that Israel would show flexibility in the
"There will be a new attitude of flexibility with real intention to
give a chance to the new Palestinian government, which has declared
that its interest is to fight terror," he said. "At this stage the
defense establishment, including the Israeli army and all the rest
are willing to do everything, really everything, to allow this
seedling to blossom."
The AP contributed to this report. (© 2001-2005 Koret Communications
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