Israel freezes handover of Palestinian towns

Thursday, May 05, 2005 | 
Israel says it will not transfer control of any more towns in Judea and Samaria to the Palestinians because they have failed to keep their commitment to fight terrorism. Israel handed over the towns of Jericho and Tulkarem to the Palestinians in March, on condition that they would disarm wanted terrorists. But Israeli officials say that has hasn't happened. Until it does, Israel says the planned pullout from three more towns—Bethlehem, Kalkilya and Ramallah--is on hold. Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat described the Israeli move as "a very unfortunate approach and decision." He said the Palestinian Authority has received commitments from militants wanted by Israel to halt violence. But by keeping their weapons, the gunmen have the option of returning to terrorist activities when they see fit.

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