Jericho pullback talks break down

A planned Israeli army pullback from cities in the occupied West Bank has stalled, with talks to turn over Jericho to Palestinian control breaking down, Aljazeera reported.

    Mofaz(L) and Abbas agreed in principle to Jericho pullback

    An Israeli security source, though, told the Reuters news agency there would be another meeting later in the day "to try to reach an understanding".


    The military redeployment, under which Palestinians would impose security to prevent resistance attacks in exchange for an end to economically crippling encirclement by Israel, is key to reviving peace moves following a ceasefire summit on 8 February.


    Security chiefs met in Jericho on Wednesday to finalise a deal agreed in principle by Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas and Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz a day earlier to launch pullbacks.


    Palestinians demanded removal
    of all Israeli roadblocks

    Meeting dissolved 


    But the meeting quickly dissolved after Israel again balked at Palestinian demands for a removal of all army roadblocks in the region around Jericho to restore free movement between the desert oasis and other West Bank cities.


    Palestinian national security force chief Haj Ismail Jaber told reporters on Wednesday that Israel was refusing to dismantle checkpoints hampering access to the nearby Jordan Valley highway.


    "We did not reach final agreement as the Israeli side still has no instructions to lift all checkpoints. So we are still in the process of consultations," said Jaber.


    The pullback plan has stumbled on disputes over its scope.


    Wide radius


    "Jericho is the first stage, starting with the easy part. After that they will get other cities"

    Amos Gilad,
    Israeli official

    Palestinians have demanded a wide radius of control around cities while Israel has hesitated over doubts about the ability of Palestinian police to intercept resistance fighters.


    Senior Defence Ministry official Amos Gilad earlier signalled on Israel Radio that the pullout from Jericho, which has seen little violence of late in a four-year Palestinian resistance movement, could begin within hours of sealing a deal.


    "Jericho is the first stage, starting with the easy part. After that they will get other cities. It's a matter of them (Palestinians) taking responsibility to stop terror," he said.


    If the Palestinians established security in Jericho and Tulkarm, Israel would follow up with pullbacks from Qalqilya, Bethlehem and Ram Allah, the hub of Palestinian government.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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