Photo: Reuters
Mofaz and Abbas at the Erez Crossing
Photo: Reuters
'Tul Karm and Jericho first'
Mofaz and Abbas agreed Jericho to be transferred to Palestinians Wednesday; to discuss release of additional 400 Palestinian prisoners

Israel is expected to hand over control of the West Bank city of Jericho on Wednesday, and the city of Tul Karm is scheduled to be transferred to the Palestinians next week, according to an agreement reached by Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas Tuesday.


"In the coming days, we will apparently transfer two more cities after a meeting between military commanders tomorrow. We are talking about Tul Karm and Jericho," Mofaz said at the press conference which followed his meeting with Abbas at the Erez Crossing Tuesday.


A Palestinian official said Mofaz and Abbas have also agreed to discuss within the next few days the preparation of an additional list of some 400 Palestinian prisoners expected to be released from Israeli prisons.


Israel has already released 500 Palestinian prisoners.


Mofaz said the two had also discussed steps to ease restrictions imposed on the Palestinian population.


He reiterated his call for the Palestinian Authority to curb terror activity within the Authority, and said a situation where one side was abiding by the political process while the other was violating it with acts of terror would not be tolerated. 


'Still a long way off'


Abbas said an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank should also include villages as well as cities.


"We must remove all obstacles to peace," he said.


Talks had been stalled following last month's Tel Aviv suicide bombing, which left five people dead.


Abbas said earlier that Israel was harming peace efforts by "dragging its feet," referring to the release of Palestinian prisoners and withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.


He told the Palestinian parliament that Israel's delay in carrying out its commitment is threatening the achievements already made and provides excuses to those planning to foil the peace process.


IDF Chief of Staff Moshe (Bugi) Yaalon said a change has indeed taken place in the Palestinian Authority, but the change in security

reforms is being implemented too slowly.


"The Palestinian Authority undertook to implement security reforms and to take action against terror organizations," he said. "We are still a long way off from there. What we have been through during the past months shows it is being carried out too slowly, and the time is being used by terror organizations to carry out terror attacks," he said.


First published: 08.03.05, 22:26
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