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idf checkpoint 298.88.(Photo by: AP)
Israel says it’s planning new gestures
By YAAKOV KATZ AND HILARY LEILA KRIEGER IN WASHING
04/02/2010
US has demanded Israel show commitment to peace; top PA minister visits DC.
Israel has formulated a new list of potential gestures towards the Palestinians, Defense Ministry sources said Thursday, as a top Palestinian Authority minister visited Washington for talks with Obama administration officials.

The office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) and the Defense Ministry recently compiled new proposals for easing restrictions on Palestinians in the West Bank, according to Defense officials.

The move comes amidst the most serious crisis in US-Israeli relations in years, with the US demanding that Israel do more to show a commitment towards the peace process.

Following meetings that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu held last week with the top US leadership, including US President Barack Obama, the cabinet has been contemplating a package of confidence-building measures.

US officials were also in contact with Palestinian representatives in the region, with PA Interior Minister Saeed Abu Ali coming to Washington this week.

US State Department officials described his visit as merely “routine consultations.”

The IDF sees it as a PA effort to influence the administration into upping the pressure on Israel to make a series of goodwill gestures in the West Bank.

“He is basically coming with a shopping list,” one official said of Abu Ali’s trip. “The Palestinians are interested in Israel easing restrictions and transferring territory over to their control.”

The Palestinians, according to Israeli officials, are asking for a number of measures that also appear in COGAT’s list and include the transfer of security control over West Bank cities from the IDF to PA forces; the removal of additional roadblocks and the change in status over certain pieces of land that are categorized as “Area C” – meaning they are under full Israeli administrative and security control – to either Area A or B status, which would give the Palestinians administrative rights.

One example is a road that connects Rawabi, the new Palestinian city under construction in the West Bank, with Ramallah, part of which falls under Area C. The Palestinians have asked that it be transferred to Palestinian control.

Officials said Thursday that the IDF was not opposed to transferring control over the land to the PA but was waiting to do so within the context of more general confidence-building measures to be approved by the cabinet.
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