Israeli soldier wounded in Gaza Strip, 15 Palestinians arrested in Ramallah as Israel, PA set to hold security talks
Israel's Defense Minister, Benjamin Ben-Eliezer is expected to meet early this week with top security officials of the Palestinian Authority, Abdel Razeq Yihyeh and Mohammed Dahlan. The three are due to continue talks on Ben-Eliezer's proposal for a gradual cease-fire agreement.
Ben-Eliezer plans to propose to the Palestinian officials that the "Gaza First" proposal be broadened to include Bethlehem and Hebron in the West Bank. According to the plan, the Palestinians will undertake responsibility for security in these areas and in return the Israeli army will evacuate its forces from Area A in those areas.
The Palestinians are demanding that the Israeli withdrawal come first and that the plan be implemented at the same time in Gaza and the West Bank.
An Israeli security source said Saturday that "if we see that they [the Palestinians] are serious, we will broaden the plan to Bethlehem and Hebron," Haaretz reported.
The Israeli Prime Minister's Bureau stated Saturday that the talks between Ben-Eliezer and the Palestinian security officials are being carried out with the full knowledge and in coordination with Ariel Sharon.
On the ground, an Israeli soldier was lightly wounded Sunday morning after he was hit by shrapnel during an exchange of gunfire between Israeli troops and Palestinians in the Gush Katif settlement bloc in the Gaza Strip, Israel Radio reported.
Israeli troops detained 15 Palestinians early Sunday morning near the West Bank city of Ramallah. Elsewhere, Palestinian witnesses said Israeli security forces grabbed an activist of Hamas from his Nablus grocery store Saturday. The army confirmed the activist's arrest but provided no details. (Albawaba.com)
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