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Dahlan-Mofaz Meeting Fails to Produce Results

Dahlan-Mofaz Meeting Fails to Produce Results

A meeting between Palestine National Authority (PNA) Minister of Security Affairs Mohammad Dahlan and the Israeli “Defense” Minister Shaul Mofaz late Wednesday outside Jerusalem failed to produce agreement on further withdrawals of the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) from Palestinian reoccupied territories.

Dahlan and Mofaz held late Wednesday a meeting at a hotel in Neve Ilan, outside Jerusalem, which continued until 1 a.m. Thursday.

The meeting was the first high-level session since a round of talks in Washington in separate summits between Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and his Israeli counterpart Ariel Sharon with US President George W. Bush.

The Palestinians demanded that any IOF withdrawal from reoccupied Palestinian cities be accompanied be steps that would allow Palestinians free movement between the cities.

“We wanted the withdrawal to be a genuine one that would allow the Palestinian cities to connect with each other and would give people free ways to move on the roads between those cities and villages without having to go through the Israeli army roadblocks,” Dahlan said Thursday.

Mofaz offered Dahlan security control over the northern West Bank city of Qalqilyah, completely surrounded by the Israeli Apartheid Wall, and Jericho, which is not reoccupied by IOF, Israeli media reports said.

Palestinian sources called the Israeli offer of Jericho and Qalqilyah as "not serious.” A
security source said, “There is no crisis, but we haven't reached an agreement yet,” Haaretz reported Thursday.

Dahlan insisted that Ramallah be included as one of the two cities.

Dahlan urged Mofaz to follow up IOF troop withdrawals from the West Bank town of Bethlehem and most of the Gaza Strip four weeks ago with a pullout from Ramallah, where Palestinian President Yasser Arafat has been under siege since December 2001.

“Ramallah first and then Qalqilya or Nablus,” a source close to Dahlan told AFP.

But Israel has reservations over transferring Ramallah to the Palestinians due to its symbolism as the seat of residence for President Arafat and Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, Haaretz said.

Interviewed on the Arabic satellite TV channel Al-Jazeera on Wednesday, Abbas said he told Bush during their meeting on Friday that Israel must allow Arafat freedom of movement. “He is our president and we don't accept any other one,” Abbas said.

Mofaz reiterated his deep hostility to Arafat Wednesday saying he believed it had been an "historic mistake” by Israel not to expel the Palestinian leader altogether.

Palestinian sources quoted by Haaretz said there were 16 items on the agenda of Dahlan-Mofaz meeting, including an Israeli promise that Palestinian activists on Israel’s wanted list would not be targeted or arrested in return for a PNA pledge to limit their movements, and, in certain cases, transfer them to a detention camp in Jericho.

Other items on the agenda were the PNA demand to increase the number of Palestinians allowed to travel abroad and the possibility of reuniting Palestinians in the occupied terroteries with family members abroad.

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