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PM to attend Tuesday summit with Mubarak, Abbas, Abdullah (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Aluf Benn and Amos Harel, Haaretz Correpondents, and agencies 02/02/05 14:43 (GMT+2)Source: http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/spages/534966.html HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will meet Tuesday with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in a summit to be held in Egypt´s Red Sea resort of Sharm a-Sheikh.

Senior Palestinian officials were also quoted by Reuters as saying that Jordan´s King Abdullah II is also expected to participate in the meeting.

The summit, to discuss further progress in budding Israeli- Palestinian cooperation, came at Mubarak´s initiative. It was announced by Egyptian security chief Omar Suleiman after his Wednesday meeting in Jerusalem with Sharon, during which the prime minister accepted the invitation.

According to Suleiman, Mubarak initiated the summit proposal following progress in security discussions between Israel and the Authority.

Sharon and Abbas were to have met on Tuesday in Jerusalem.

PA said to have destroyed arms tunnel

In a further sign of an apparent shift in Palestinian Authority policy, Palestinian security forces destroyed a weapons smuggling tunnel Wednesday along the Gaza-Egypt border, security officials said.

The forces destroyed the tunnel by filling it with water and sand, the officials said on condition of anonymity.

The report came hours after Amos Gilad, the Defense Ministry´s policy chief for diplomatic issues, said Israel may agree to a Palestinian request to refrain from attacking wanted men who lay down their arms and pledge to halt militant operations.

But the Jewish state will keep its "finger on the pulse" to monitor Palestinian compliance with the emerging agreement, Gilad told Army Radio.

Israel has long demanded that the Palestinian security forces destroy the tunnels, often used by militants to smuggle weapons from Egypt into the Gaza Strip. Militants have also killed several IDF soldiers by digging tunnels under military installations and packing them with explosives.

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" in the possible halt in military operations.

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and Mohammed Dahlan, acting on behalf of Abbas, agreed on establishing the joint committee at their meeting in Herzliya Monday night. Cabinet ministers are set to approve the formation of the committee later this week, Gilad said.

The committee will approve understandings with wanted Palestinian militants, who will be forced to hand in their weapons and sign a written agreement pledging not to carry out attacks against Israelis and Israeli targets, Gilad confirmed.

In exchange, Israel will refrain from hunting down the fugitives.

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.

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.

Shin Bet to take tough line

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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