President Mahmoud Abbas said Tuesday that the PA has collected weapons
from all wanted men in the West Bank towns of Jericho and Tulkarem,
which Israel transferred to Palestinian security control earlier this

Abbas also said that the PA would do the same in every town Israel hands over to the Palestinians.

Abbas, who addressed Israeli journalists in
Ramallah, accused the government of Israel of doing everything it could
to undermine legitimacy of the Palestinian Authority.

‘We took many steps, some publicly and some
unpublicized, but Israel kills three youths in Rafah and a wanted man
in the Balata refugee camp, and arrests two others. These things ruin
our legitimacy.’ Abbas said.

Abbas said that the PA security has thwarted dozens
of attacks, and has handed Israel weapons, explosive devices, mortar
shells and bomb belts that it has seized.

PA efforts have reduced hostilities by at least 80%, Abbas told Israeli reporters.

He reiterated readiness to coordinate with Israel in
implementing the disengagement plan, but said that there was no current
coordination on the issue.

Abbas held Israel responsible for the slow rate by which PA reforms are going.

‘Israel must give me time and help the Palestinian
Authority. Why do you need to hold tens of thousands of prisoners? Why
do you continue to place checkpoints and to make things difficult for
the Palestinians? Why do you need to continue to chase wanted militants
despite the agreement to stop doing so?’ Abbas said.

Abbas expressed readiness to meet Israeli Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon anywhere and at any time. He wished Jews around
the world a happy Passover holiday.

“I hope Palestinians would also soon be able to celebrate their own Festival of Freedom.’ Abbas concluded.