Israel Declares Measures to Ease Palestinian Uprising

Published September 28th, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

Israel and the Palestinians adopted measures to improve the situation on the ground in the Palestinian territories on Friday during a meeting of a joint security committee in Tel Aviv, the defense ministry said in a statement. 

"Measures destined to reestablish confidence were taken during the meeting," the ministry said. 

Israel promised to open the Rafah border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt on Sunday, and allow the free movement of traffic in major Palestinian towns if the situation is calm on the ground, the ministry announced. 

The Palestinians undertook to clamp down on regular attacks on Israeli army positions at Rafah as well as mortar attacks on Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip, it added. 

"The Palestinians have promised to make a distinctive effort to halt the shooting and mortar-fire in the Rafah sector," the statement said. 

The two sides also agreed to a security meeting on Sunday at the level of field commanders on Sunday and for another meeting of the high security committee to be held soon, the statement said. 

The Israelis also renewed their demand that the Palestinian Authority arrest men suspected of attacking Israel, a stumbling block in previous truce talks. 

"The Israeli party has relayed without equivocation its demand [to the Palestinians] for the prevention of attacks and to arrest those implicated in terrorist operations," the statement said. 

The two sides divided into two working groups, one for the Gaza Strip and one for the West Bank. 

The ministry confirmed US representatives were present at the meeting, but did not specify whether they belonged to the CIA, the US spy agency. 

The CIA has monitored security cooperation between the two sides since 1998, and its director, George Tenet, pressed the two sides in June to set the framework for a truce and resumption of peace negotiations. 

Israeli participants included generals Giora Eiland, the head of the military's planning department, Doron Almog and Yitzhak Eitan, the respective commanders for the Gaza Strip and West Bank.  

A representative of Shin Beth, Israel's internal security force, also participated. 

The joint Israeli-Palestinian security committee followed on the heels of a new truce initiative concluded Wednesday by Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat -- JERUSALEM (AFP)

© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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