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The Palestinians are responsible for fighting terror and providing security and safety for Israelis in return for the implementation of the US road map and the creation of a Palestinian state, Palestinian Authority National Security Adviser Jibril Rajoub told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.
He was commenting on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's decision to form a new party and his promise to implement the US road map for peace.
"The Palestinian aim is to reach a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders... the way to do so is the road map," Rajoub said. "In return, the PA is responsible for ensuring security and safety for Israelis."
Sharon's move to the center was "better late than never," he added. "Even Sharon seems to have recharged his ment al batteries and has realized that negotiations and a peaceful settlement based on the road map are the only way to achieve real peace and security for Israel."
"It's a good and positive development," Rajoub continued. "The most important thing at this p oi nt is that the Israeli and Palestinian mainstream agree to resolve the conflict through negotiations and the road map."
Another senior Palestinian official said there was a positive atmosphere following US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's visit t o I srael and the PA last week, as the Americans were pushing for a resolution to the conflict. That official credited the agreement on control of the Rafah border to an American desire for progress , which they hoped would undermine radical Islamic force s ah ead of Palestinian Legislative Council elections in January.
Israel and the Palestinians are now discussing busses for Palestinians between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. They will begin negotiations soon on a final passageway - a tunnel or a lan d bri dge - in tandem with the World Bank, which is expected to finance the project.
The two sides were also involved in talks over the reopening of the Palestinian airport in Gaza, Palestinian Civil Affairs Minister Muhammad Dahlan told The Jerusale m Post . Dahlan leads the talks on all three fronts for the Palestinian side.
"So far, Israel has agreed to facilitate the movement of people and goods," Dahlan said.
Under the terms of the agreement, "wanted Palestinians will not be able to use the busse s," the senior PA official said. "Our concern is to facilitate the lives of the normal people, not the wanted."
Neither Israel nor the PA were keen on wanted Palestinians moving from Gaza to the West Bank to create problems, he said.
Meanwhile, Palesti nian officials like Rajoub and Dahlan are preparing for the Fatah primaries. Both are expected to be elected as Fatah representatives.
"I predict that this will be the first time Fatah will have to form a coalition government," said Bassam Abu Sharif, an independent political activist and former advisor to deceased PA leader Yasser Arafat. "There will be no clear majority for Fatah and no winners in the upcoming elections."
Fatah and Hamas would score almost equally and independent candidates, a third p arty, or an alliance of left-wing groups would be the decisive force needed for Fatah or Hamas to form a government, Abu Sharif added.
A second high-ranking PA official agreed that Fatah would not score a clear victory and might need to ally with a third party. But he maintained that Fatah would score better than Hamas and be the party to lead a coalition government..
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