Palestinian Civil Affairs Minister Muhammad Dahlan has acknowledged positive Israeli "gestures" linked to the planned withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, following a meeting with Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz.
"We had a good meeting, at the heart of which we spoke about coordination on the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip," Dahlan told reporters in Gaza City on Tuesday after briefing Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas on his talks.
"We also spoke about the question of 'safe passages' which will allow Palestinians to move freely between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip," via Israeli territory, he added.
Dahlan said Israel was also willing to allow Palestinians living abroad to visit the Gaza Strip. Such visits have been banned since the start of the Palestinian intifada in September 2000.
The Palestinian minister added that Mofaz had "given the green light for the construction of a port at Gaza with warehouses built on the site of the [Jewish] settlement of Netzarim" which is due to be evacuated next month, along with all the other settlements in the Gaza Strip.
An Israeli Defence Ministry spokesman in Tel Aviv said he could not comment on the talks between Dahlan and Mofaz, which took place at an undisclosed location in Israel.
But Abbas confirmed that progress had been made in the coordination of the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, due to happen in mid-August.
Abbas said he would do all he
could to maintain the ceasefire
He stressed that he would do all he could to maintain the fragile ceasefire proclaimed by various Palestinian resistance groups in March.
Meanwhile, fiercely opposed to the withdrawal, Jewish extremists have cast an ancient Aramaic death curse on Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, imploring "angels of destruction" to kill the premier, the online edition of the Yediot Aharonot newspaper revealed.
In a cemetery at dawn last Friday, Rabbi Yossef Dayan presided over the "pulsa dinura", or "rod of fire" in Aramaic, attended by about 20 others who implored God to curse the premier for his presumed sins.
Far-right Israeli activists held the same ceremony to pray for the death of Yitzhak Rabin in 1995. A few days later the prime minister was assassinated by a Jewish extremist for trying to make peace with the Palestinians.