Israel, Palestinians agree on security changes

Special to World
Sunday, June 29, 2003

GAZA CITY Israel and the Palestinian Authority have agreed on a withdrawal and transfer of security responsibility.

The agreement arranged by the United States calls for an Israeli withdrawal from PA-controlled areas of the Gaza Strip and and the West Bank city of Bethlehem. In exchange, the PA has agreed to assume security responsibility over these areas.

Officials said the accord includes the following elements: Israel agreed to end assassination and other military operations in PA-controlled areas of the Gaza Strip and Bethlehem. Israel also pledged to lift restrictions on the movement of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the Bethlehem area.

For its part, the PA agreed to security and intelligence cooperation with Israel. The agreement includes the halt in Palestinian missile strikes from the Gaza Strip and PA cooperation in stopping insurgency attacks from its territory.

The Israeli withdrawal will begin from the Gaza Strip on Monday, officials said. The withdrawal from the Bethlehem area will take place later this week.

Over the weekend, Palestinian gunners continued mortar fire toward Israeli communities in the Gaza Strip. Israeli troops came under Palestinian fire in several areas of the West Bank. Israeli officials said 70 alerts have been received of Palestinian attacks, most of them from the West Bank.

In one of the attacks, a U.S. vehicle was damaged in a Palestinian bombing in the Gaza Strip. Palestinian sources said two bombs blew up as a convoy of U.S. diplomatic vehicles passed. Nobody was injured.

Earlier, Hamas and Islamic leaders accepted a plan for a three-month truce.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine said it will not join the ceasefire accord as the proposed truce has aroused opposition within the ruling Fatah movement.

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