Israeli withdrawal talks fail

A planned Israeli pullback from the occupied West Bank towns of Jericho and Qalqilya early this week was postponed late on Sunday after a meeting between Palestinian and Israeli officials ended in failure.

    Israel's "security wall" runs through Qalqilya

    The meeting ended without results, said Elias Zananieri, spokesman for Palestinian security chief Muhammad Dahlan following the nearly four-hour-long meeting.

    Security and local officials had kicked off the meeting at 8:00pm (1700 GMT) to discuss Israel’s conditional withdrawal from Jericho, Qalqilya, Ram Allah and Tulkaram.

    The problem was focused on Qalqilya where Israel is refusing to dismantle a checkpoint at the entrance of the city, said Zananieri.

    "Israel created this problem. They said they would withdraw from Qalqilya but they want to maintain the checkpoint at the entrance of the city," he said.

    Palestinians had expected the Israeli pullback from Qalqilya and Jericho to take place on Monday.

    Some Palestinian ministers said earlier that Israel’s announcement on the withdrawal was meaningless since there are no Israeli troops currently present in Jericho and Qalqilya.

    The two sides agreed to meet again on Tuesday, said Zananieri.

    Crackdown

    Israel demands a crackdown on
    Palestinian activists

    An Israeli pullback is part of efforts to push forward the US-backed “road map” aimed at ending the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Palestinian officials are expected to crackdown on resistance groups in return.

    Israeli officials were quoted on Sunday as saying the Palestinian Authority had boosted efforts to rein in resistance fighters.

    “In the last 48 hours, the Palestinians have been making efforts to stop and prevent attacks,” a senior Israeli official quoted Major-General Aharon Zeevi-Farkash, chief of military intelligence, as telling the weekly cabinet meeting.

    Israel has refused to withdraw from occupied Palestinian cities until groups fighting for an end to Israel’s occupation are disarmed and dismantled, a stance not recognised by the Palestinian Authority.

    Palestinian officials say they believe Israel will now settle for resistance fighters to be “contained”.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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