Israeli DM: PA to take security control of Jericho, Qalqilyah; Palestinian prisoners go on hunger strike
Israel's Defense Minister Saul Mofaz told Israeli
ministers Sunday that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has returned to a "green light" policy for "terror attacks", Israel's Army Radio reported.
In addition, the Defense Minister told the cabinet at the weekly government meeting, "If there are no other developments, Israel will transfer security control in Jericho and Qalqilyah to the Palestinian Authority on Monday."
Mofaz added that Arafat has been giving his subordinates unclear, non-obligatory indications that a renewal of "terror attacks" was currently allowed.
Speaking about the planned transfer of four more West Bank
cities to Palestinian control, Mofaz said that the
transfer would be gradual, depending on the Palestinian Authority's success in preventing "terror attacks",
controlling "wanted" activists and curbing the use of tunnels in the Rafah area of the Gaza Strip for smuggling.
Mofaz defended the decision to transfer security control of four Palestinian cities to the Palestinian Authority, saying "the transfer of cities is a step which places responsibility on the Palestinian Authority so they can deal with the terror infrastructure."
Meanwhile, Israel's intelligence chief Aharon Ze'evi Farkash also briefed the cabinet, and said that the Palestinian Authority was not doing enough to dismantle the "terror infrastructure".
"If we don't pressure them, they don't act" Farkash said, adding that Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and Security Chief Mohammed Dahlan were afraid to confront Yasser Arafat. Farkash did say however, that Abbas is determined to push forward with peace negotiations.
Moreover, Farkash said that the Palestinian population very much wants the truce to continue.
Elsewhere, Palestinian prisoners in a Palestinian jail in the West Bank city of Jericho started a hunger strike Sunday against their imprisonment.
According to Israel Radio, the group of 15 prisoners were mostly members of the Fatah, affiliated with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
The prisoners claimed that they were told they could live in Jericho after committing to refrain from "terror activity" and that they are wrongly imprisoned.
In a separate development, Israeli troops arrested a senior Islamic Jihad activist in the West Bank city of Qalqilyah early Sunday morning, Palestinian officials said.
Akif Nazal, 38, was arrested along with a Tanzim member who has not been named, Palestinian security sources said.
Israeli sources confirmed the arrests had been made in an operation during which soldiers came under fire but did not respond. (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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