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Israel, Palestinians to set up joint panel on wanted men (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Amos Harel 02/02/05)Source: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/534927.html HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
Israel and the Palestinians have agreed to set up a joint committee to deal with the cases of wanted men after a cease-fire is formally announced. The committee is to meet for the first time next week.

The Shin Bet, which has frozen its hunt for wanted men, is recommending not to include Palestinians "with blood on their hands."

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and Mohammed Dahlan, acting on behalf of Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas, agreed on establishing the joint committee at their meeting in Herzliya Monday night.

A Shin Bet official will chair the Israeli team, which also will include a representative from the Israel Defense Forces and the Justice Ministry. PA security officials will make up the Palestinian team.

Israel´s participation still requires approval by a special ministerial-level committee, which is due to meet tomorrow.

According to the emerging arrangements, in both Gaza and the West Bank, Israel will agree not to harm wanted men who hand in their weapons to the PA, sign a commitment not to get involved in any more in terror, remain in their home towns and agree to monitoring by the PA security apparatus.

Israel will encourage the PA to concentrate the wanted men in cities like Jericho. In those areas under Israeli control, each wanted man´s case will be discussed individually.

Despite recognizing that things have changed and goodwill gestures must be made toward the Palestinians, the Shin Bet will take a tough line in the committee regarding Palestinians who directly participated in the murder of Israelis. It is sticking to its position that no deals are possible with those wanted men. In addition, the Shin Bet regards the move as a freeze on the hunt for the wanted men and not a "laundering" of their past sins.

If there is a deterioration in the security situation and agreements are violated, Israel will feel free to resume the hunt for the wanted men.

The ministerial committee will also discuss the handover of West Bank cities. As of now, five cities are under discussion: Ramallah, Bethlehem, Jericho, Qalqilyah and Tul Karm. Israel wants the transfer to be gradual - one or two cities at a time - apparently starting next week. Jericho or Bethlehem will likely be the first city, and not Ramallah, as the Palestinians have asked.

There also have been discussions of expelled Palestinians. Israel apparently will allow some terrorist relatives who were expelled from the West Bank to Gaza to return to their former abode. (© Copyright 2005 Haaretz. 02/02/05)

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