Sources: Israel to end targeted killings - Israel could free 500 Palestinian prisoners (CNN) JERUSALEM, ISRAEL Associated Press contributed 02/03/05 7:06 PM EST (0006 GMT)
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JERUSALEM (CNN) -- An Israeli Cabinet committee on Thursday approved
the release of at least 500 Palestinian prisoners, a military
withdrawal from five West Bank cities -- and an end to targeted
killings of suspected Palestinian militants, sources in the prime
minister´s office said.
The committee´s decision follows a series of confidence-building
measures undertaken by the Palestinian Authority.
It also comes ahead of a scheduled summit between Israeli Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud
Tuesday´s summit will be the first meeting between Sharon and Abbas
since Abbas took over the reins of the Palestinian Authority after
the death of Yasser Arafat.
During Arafat´s tenure, talks on the crucial "road map" to peace
broke down. The road map was drawn up by Russia, the European Union,
the United Nations and the United States and was a step-by-step plan
to end the conflict and create an independent Palestinian state.
The issues of security control of the West Bank and the targeted
killings of suspected militants are expected to be key topics at the
The Palestinians have insisted that Israel drop its policy of
targeted killings before they agree to a cease-fire.
Under the new proposals, the policy would be replaced by a new
protocol, the sources said. Israel -- under the auspices of a
Palestinian-Israeli committee -- will give Palestinian security
officials a list of suspected militants.
Palestinian security officials would then locate those people and
offer them amnesty in return for renouncing violence, the sources
Israel´s key demand has been that the Palestinian Authority must rein
in militants before peace talks can resume.
In response, Abbas has deployed about 2,000 Palestinian security
forces along the Israel-Gaza border to prevent attacks on Israel.
In late January, Israeli newspaper Ha´aretz reported that Abbas had
reached a provisional agreement with the Islamic fundamentalist group
Hamas to cease terrorist attacks against Israeli targets. A spokesman
for Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the militant offshoot of the Fatah
movement Abbas now leads, said in a TV interview that his group also
had agreed to halt attacks on Israelis.
Both Hamas and Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades are regarded by Israel and
the United States as terrorist organizations.
Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ahmed Qorei issued an
order banning the carrying of unlicensed weapons into areas
controlled by Palestinian security.
West Bank security
Transferring security control to Palestinians in the five West Bank
cities will take place in the coming days and weeks, one city at a
time, the sources said. The sources did not say which cities were
The Associated Press reported that an Israeli withdrawal from the
West Bank city of Jericho could take place within the next few days.
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told the ministers that Bethlehem,
Qalquilya and Tulkarem would be next and that Ramallah, the
Palestinian´s center of government would be last, the AP reported.
Hosni Mubarak and Jordan´s King Abdullah II are expected to attend
next week´s summit, the first of its kind since June of 2003, when
Abdullah hosted Sharon, President Bush, and Abbas, who was
Palestinian Authority prime minister at the time.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is expected to meet with
Abbas and Sharon a day before the summit as part of her first trip
abroad as secretary of state.
Last week, Sharon said he believes the Palestinians have created
conditions for a "historic breakthrough" in relations.
"It seems that there is a positive approach [by Palestinians]
regarding the war on terrorism and advancing the diplomatic process,"
Sharon said during a speech in Tel Aviv. (© 2005 Cable News Network
LP, LLLP. 02/03/05)
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