New glimmers of hope for an end to the violence in the Palestinian territories flickered Thursday with reports that the Israelis and Palestinians had agreed to resume joint security patrols, reported AFP.
Following a high-level meeting of security and political chiefs late Wednesday, Israel reopened the main road in the Gaza Strip and the crossing point with Egypt, Palestinian officials said.
The Allenby Bridge across the Jordan River linking the West Bank with Jordan was also opened, said the agency.
According to Haaretz newspaper, the Israeli side included transport minister Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, Shin Bet chief Avi Dichter, the head of the planning branch in the defense ministry Shlomo Yanai and the heads of the military central and southern Commands, Yitzhak Eitan and Doron Almog.
The Palestinian side, added the paper, was represented by the heads of intelligence in the West Bank and Gaza, Tawfik Tirawi and Amin el-Hindi, preventive security heads Jibril Rajoub and Mohammed Dahlan, and police chiefs Haj Ismail and Abd El Razek Majeideh.
Majeidah, speaking to reporters after a meeting with Almog, said Israel has agreed to lift the blockades on all towns and cities in the Gaza Strip, according to AFP.
Israel tightened its grip on the Palestinian territories on January 1 after a car bomb exploded in the northern Israeli town of Netanya, injuring at least 35 people, and killing the bomber, a member of the Islamic Hamas movement.
But the West Bank and Gaza Strip have been cut off from Israel virtually since the Palestinian Intifada, said the agency.
At the meeting, the Israeli side demanded that the Palestinians restrain those forces involved in shooting attacks and arrest Hamas and Islamic Jihad members who were released from Palestinian Authority jails during the course of the last three-and-a-half months, according to Haaretz newspaper.
AFP quoted Israeli Radio as saying that results of the talks would be reviewed by Israeli caretaker Prime Minister Ehud Barak's "peace cabinet.
The report did not say when that meeting would be held.
The talks followed a meeting late Tuesday between Lipkin-Shahak and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, which Dahlan described as "more positive" than previous talks in Cairo over the weekend, according to the agency -- (Several Sources)
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