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Israeli pull out

by: Robert Berger - Last updated: 2005-03-21

Ariel Sharon

Ariel Sharon

Israel says the army will pull out of the West Bank town of Tulkarem today and hand control to the Palestinian Authority.

Under a cease-fire agreement declared last month in Egypt, Israel agreed to pull out of five West Bank towns. But the withdrawals were postponed for weeks because of disagreements over security arrangements and a deadly suicide bombing in Tel Aviv. The deadlock was broken last week, prompting Israel to pull out of the West Bank town of Jericho.
Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom says it is now up to the Palestinians to fight terrorism.

"We would like to believe that the Palestinians will do everything to prevent those extremists from carrying out more attacks against us, " said Silvan Shalom.

The Palestinian Authority has agreed to do that, but it will not be easy. In the West Bank, Palestinian gunmen opened fire on an Israeli patrol, wounding three Israeli soldiers and a policeman, and rattling the Mideast cease-fire. Mr Shalom says such attacks threaten the agreement.

"Israel will be compelled to react, and of course we do not want to have this escalation," he said.

While the major Palestinian militant groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad have agreed to halt attacks against Israel, some rebel factions have vowed to sabotage the cease-fire.

Story supplied by: VOAnews