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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)Source: http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/02/03/mideast/index.html CNN} CABLE NEWS NETWORK CNN} CABLE NEWS NETWORK Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
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 Abbas.

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 summit.

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 said.

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 involved.

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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