Abbas-Sharon summit in two weeks as security talks continue (AFP-FRANCE PRESSE) JERUSALEM, ISRAEL 01/29/05 1:54 PM ET)
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JERUSALEM (AFP) - Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will meet
Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas in two weeks, an official said, as
the two sides prepared to discuss the transfer of security control in
parts of the West Bank, fueling real optimism about progress towards
The security transfer in the West Bank is due to take place following
a first Abbas-Sharon meeting, the latest in a series of peace
gestures between Israel and the Palestinians amid a lull in violence.
"This meeting should take place a fortnight from now," said prime
minister Ahmed Qorei´s top aide Hassan Abu Libdeh.
Abbas met Sharon when he was prime minister in 2003 but the proposed
summit would be the first between Israeli and Palestinian leaders in
over four years.
Backed by his top allies in Washington, Sharon refused to have
anything to do with Abbas´s late predecessor, Yasser Arafat.
But in a major policy shift, Israel has called off offensive
operations in Gaza after over 4,000 Palestinian troops were deployed
across the territory with orders to halt rocket attacks.
Government spokesman Avi Pazner called it Israel´s "biggest gesture"
since the Palestinian uprising began in September 2000, hoping that
it could "turn a new page with the Palestinians".
Abbas, on his first foreign tour as leader, Saturday briefed Egyptian
President Hosni Mubarak on efforts to secure a formal truce from
militant groups to cement the informal lull in anti-Israeli attacks.
Talks focused on moves to revive the peace process and the economic
aide needed by the Palestinians to restore security in the occupied
territories, an Egyptian source said.
Some 40 Palestinian policemen are in Egypt for training ahead of
Israel´s planned withdrawal from the Gaza Strip later this year,
Cairo has declared its readiness to train 30,000 Palestinian police
to take charge of security in Gaza and is willing to deploy an extra
700 guards along its border with Gaza to tighten security after the
Meanwhile, former Palestinian security minister Mohammed Dahlan was
due to meet Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz in Tel Aviv to
discuss a transfer of security control in five West Bank cities,
Palestinian sources said.
Also on the agenda was a possible halt to Israeli military operations
in the West Bank and the release of some of the 8,000 Palestinians
jailed in Israel, amid reports that officials are ready to free a
first tranche of 900.
Despite the lull in violence in the occupied territories, two
Palestinians who were wounded by Israeli troops in separate incidents
in southern Gaza, died of their injuries, Palestinian medical sources
One was a mentally handicapped man injured on Friday near Khan Yunis,
medics said, identifying the man as Ibrahim el-Shawas, 36.
The second, Ahmed Abu Mustafa, was badly injured on December 22 when
Israeli troops staged a major incursion into the Khan Yunis refugee
Medics said they had also discovered the body of a militant near the
Kissufim border crossing in central Gaza.
They said the man, whose identity was not immediately clear, had been
killed during a failed attack in January, in which two other
militants also died.
The latest deaths raised to 4,723 the number of people killed since
the start of the intifada, including 3,668 Palestinians and 981
Israelis. (Copyright © 2005 Agence France Presse. 01/29/05)
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