Israel's army Deputy Chief of Staff Moshe Kaplinsky and Palestinian Deputy Interior Minister Jamal Abu Zeid were believed to have discussed implementation of the plan to withdraw all Israeli troops and over 8,000 Jewish settlers from Gaza starting in mid-August.

  

"The Palestinians will make every effort to limit (anti-Israeli) firing," Palestinian Prisoners Minister Sufian Abu Zaydeh told public television, referring to Israeli fears that resistance groups would launch attacks during the pullout.

  

"After Israel's withdrawal from Gaza, there will no longer be any pretext for violating the truce," he said.

 

Informal truce

  

Palestinian resistance groups have been largely observing an informal truce since January but a recent flurry of violence in the Gaza Strip has threatened the fragile accord.

  

"It is in the mutual interest of the Palestinians and Israel that the soldiers and Israeli settlers leave the Gaza Strip," Abu Zaydeh added.

 

"It is in the mutual interest of the Palestinians and Israel that the soldiers and Israeli settlers leave the Gaza Strip"

Sufian Abu Zaydeh,
Palestinian Prisoners Minister

The schedule of meetings between the two sides was laid out last week at top-level talks between Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz and Palestinian Interior Minister Nasser Yussuf, Israeli public radio said.  

  

Earlier on Tuesday, new Israeli Chief of Staff Dan Halutz warned that the army would suspend the withdrawal if there were any attacks by Palestinian fighters.

  

"I cannot see a situation where we can fight and evacuate (the settlers) simultaneously," he said.   

 

Closure ended

 

The Israeli army lifted the closure imposed on the occupied Palestinian territories for the daylong Jewish festival of Shavuot, which ended at sundown on Monday.

 

The army also said that during the holiday, Palestinian fighters fired three mortar shells and a makeshift Qassam rocket at Israeli targets in the Gaza Strip. No one was injured and no damage was caused, a spokesman said.