In an attempt to give boost for the "road map" peace plan, Israel has agreed to hand over an additional four West Bank towns to Palestinian control, Palestinian and Israeli officials said Friday, according to the AP.
Additionally, Israel announced that it will permit Yasser Arafat to travel to the Gaza Strip to visit the grave of his sister Yousra, who died earlier this week and was buried in Gaza City, Israel TV reported.
The agreement in principle to hand over the West Bank cities was reached in a meeting between Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and Palestinian Security Chief Mohammad Dahlan, Israeli and Palestinian officials said.
The towns to be handed over were Ramallah, Tulkarem, Qalqiliya and Jericho.
"We have agreed on Israeli withdrawal from four Palestinian cities in the West Bank in the coming two weeks," Dahlan said. "The meeting was very constructive."
Israeli officials confirmed that the four cities would be handed over, starting next week with Jericho and Qalqiliya.
The other two cities would be given to Palestinian control the following week, providing certain conditions are met, said Shirli Eden, a spokeswoman for the Israeli Ministry of Defense. She said the conditions include: "No terrorist attacks, the Palestinians begin to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure and the Palestinians create an apparatus for dealing with wanted people."
Senior Israeli and PA commanders are scheduld to meet Sunday to set a timetable for transferring security responsibility in the first two cities.
Under a deal reached by the two sides, the Palestinians will submit a security plan for regaining control over two other cities, Ramallah and Tulkarem, which Israel will consider over the next 10 days. (Albawaba.com)