Israel agrees to hand over West Bank town
Israel has agreed to hand over the first West Bank city to Palestinian control tomorrow, a senior Palestinian security official said.
The official told Reuters "we will assume our security responsibilities in (the West Bank town of) Tulkarm on Tuesday (tomorrow)".
Israeli security sources confirmed that such a hand over was being discussed but a Defence Ministry official said no date would be set until an upcoming meeting of Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Israel had agreed last month to hand over five cities in the West Bank which its troops had reoccupied during a more than four-year uprising that erupted after peace talks failed.
Israel then delayed carrying out the pledge it made on the eve of a February 8 summit in Egypt after a suicide bombing killed five Israelis in Tel Aviv nine days ago. But the sides resumed security talks over handing over the cities yesterday. A military source said Israel's top West Bank commander had met with a top Palestinian commander on the issue and that more meetings would be held this week.
Mr Abbas, a moderate elected in January to succeed Yasser Arafat, has said he needed to regain control over cities in the West Bank in order for him to pursue a crackdown on gunmen as Israel and the US have sought.