The Israeli government is weighing handing over the Jerusalem suburbs of Abu Dis and Eizariya to full Palestinian control on Friday, when the third West Bank redeployment under the interim accords is to have taken place, Palestinian sources said Sunday, quoted by the Jerusalem Post.
One source told the paper the move may be aimed at calming the atmosphere in advance of US special peace envoy Dennis Ross's expected arrival on Thursday, and before Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's arrival either by the weekend or next week.
Albright is expected to seek a way out of a looming crisis in talks with the Palestinians, a PA source said.
"The Americans are trying to convince us to accept a delay [of the third pullback], and there is talk that Israel may transfer Abu Dis and Eizariya... but no decision has been taken yet," he said. The sources said they expect the handover would take place on Friday instead of the third redeployment.
Prime Minister Ehud Barak has sought to delay the redeployment and make it part of a framework accord for a final-status agreement, while Palestinian president Yasser Arafat insists that Israel implement the withdrawal, mandated by the Sharm e-Sheikh Memorandum, before signing a framework agreement, said the Jerusalem Post.
Officials in the Prime Minister's Office did not deny that consideration is being given to handing over Abu Dis, which the security cabinet decided in principle to do last month. "There has been no decision on the transfer of Abu Dis to the PA," a statement said.
The transfer of Abu Dis had been postponed, because of the wave of violent protests in the West Bank and Gaza Strip last month, said the daily – Albawaba.com
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