Security cabinet meets (JERUSALEM POST) By KHALED ABU TOAMEH AND JPOST STAFF 02/03/05)
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The seven-member-security cabinet met Thursday to talk about the
measures expected to be discussed at next week´s summit in Sharm e-
At the special ministerial consultation at the Defense Ministry in
Tel Aviv, it was decided to approve the security establishment
recommendations regarding the draft security understandings that had
been reached with representatives of Palestinian Authority Chairman
One of the recommendations approved includes the release of
Palestinian prisoners. The exact number of Palestinian prisoners to
be released is a point of contention between the two sides.
The Shin Bet submitted a list of 500 Palestinian prisoners it
recommends for release. All of the prisoners on the list meet
criteria previously set forth for prisoner releases, and none "have
blood on their hands."
The Palestinians are hoping for the release of 1,000 prisoners.
After a fierce debate about the release of prisoners "with blood on
their hands," the committee settled on an immediate release of the
500 prisoners on Shin Bet´s list after the summit in Egypt on
Tuesday, and a subsequent release of another 400 prisoners in three
It was agreed, though, that Marwan Barghouti will not be released.
Israel also declared the gradual transfer of security control to the
PA of the West Bank cities of Jericho, Bethlehem, Tulkarm, Kalkilya
Jericho will be the first Palestinian city turned over to Palestinian
security control, while Ramallah will be the last.
Other steps Israel announced include an agreement to stop hunting
fugitives, provided that they sign a pledge to halt attacks and hand
The military may also remove some West Bank roadblocks and open the
Karni cargo crossing between Gaza and Israel. Karni, Gaza´s lifeline,
was closed last month, after terrorists killed six Israelis.
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz emphasized that all the measures are
reversible, however, apparently addressing concerns by hawkish
"We will make gestures, but this must be followed up by a clear
Palestinian fulfillment of their commitments," another Israeli
diplomatic official said. "The test will be one of performance."
PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei said, "The Palestinian leadership is
very serious and is doing its utmost to reach an agreement on a
He told reporters in Ramallah that under the current circumstances
there is a chance to achieve real peace.
"The commanders of the Palestinian security forces met to discuss
assuming control of these [five West Bank] cities. We hope the summit
will lead to an agreement on a withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders."
Qurei also expressed hope that the Palestinian airport in the
southern Gaza Strip would be reopened shortly. He pointed out that
the PA has reached an agreement with Israel on completing the
construction of the first Palestinian seaport in the Gaza Strip.
Vice Prime Minister Shimon Peres too seemed optimistic. In an
interview with Army Radio, he said that there is a possibility of
declaring "an end to the Intifada. In the past few years, Arafat – I
don´t know if he initiated terror activities, but he certainly didn´t
prevent them. This time, there is a Palestinian leader who is really
trying to prevent them. It´s a different situation."
Participants in the cabinet meeting included Prime Minster Sharon,
Vice Prime Ministers Olmert and Peres, as well as Defense Minister
Shaul Mofaz, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, Finance Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu, and Minister Haim Ramon.
They were briefed by IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Yaalon, OC
Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Aharon Zeevi Farkash, ISA Director Avi
Dichter, Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj.-
Gen. Yosef Mishlav, National Security Council Chairman Giora Eiland
and other senior officials. With AP (© 1995-2005, The Jerusalem Post
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