A senior Israeli military source reported on Wednesday that the army is to transfer most of the areas it evacuated in the northern West Bank to the Palestinian Authority.

The army would only enter the area if intelligence information indicated planned attacked in these areas, the source added. 

 

The area which contains the evacuated settlements of Ganim, Kadim, Homesh and Sa-Nur, north of the West Bank used to be called Area C – under full Israeli control – is reportedly to be used by Israel as a bargaining chip in future negotiations. 

Israeli government and defense sources said that Israel does not intend to remain in the evacuated area, and told Palestinian officers during talks that it intends to give them most of the responsibility in that region.

Also, the army will most likely not enforce the prohibition against what Israel describes unauthorized Palestinian construction, as in the rest of the west Bank area, as long as the constructions are not conducted close to the Separation Wall or roads.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is slated to meet on Wednesday with his Defense Minister, Shaul Mofaz, Foreign Minister, Sylvan Shalom, Finance Minister Ehud Olmert, Vice Premier Shimon Peres and Minister without Portfolio Haim Ramon.

Sharon is expected to discuss the control over the Gaza-Sinai border, army evacuation from the Philadilphi Route, and the timing of transferring responsibility over the Gaza Strip to the Palestinian Authority.

Israel is leaning towards accepting the Egyptian compromise over the operation of the border crossing from Sinai to the Gaza Strip.

The Egyptians proposed that Egypt will close the Rafah Border Crossing for renovations for a period of six to nine months immediately after Israel evacuates from the Philadilphi Route. The movement of People and good will be moved to a new terminal at Karem Shalom at Gaza-Sinai-Israel border, and will be under Israeli control.

The Rafah crossing will be operated after the renovations are completed, and will be opened for entry by European monitors. Surveillance cameras will be installed to transmit pictures to Israel so it can retain control over security.

Meanwhile, goods will continue to pass through the Karem Shalom Crossing until the future custom union between Israel and the Palestinian areas is decided.

The Israeli security establishment is expected to recommend to Sharon that the Israeli army withdraw from the Philadilphi route at the same time of withdrawal from the settlements in the Gaza Strip.

Yet, Sharon has to decide whether to complete the evacuation of soldiers before his speech at the UN General Assembly on September, 15, 2005, or delay the transfer or control to the Palestinians until the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas returns from the General Assembly. 

The Israeli government is in favor of transferring control directly to Abbas at a formal ceremony, which according to the officials, marks the end of occupation status. Also, Israeli officials believe that the presence of Abbas helps to preserve peace and quiet.

Meanwhile, the army have finished demolishing the constructions in the settlement of Ganim and Kadim, except the synagogues, perimeter fence and projector lights. The leveling of constructions in Sa-Nur and Homesh has not been concluded. 

Mofaz said on Tuesday while touring in an Israeli military headquarters in Beit Eil, that Palestinian resistance would enforce their activities and presence in the West Bank, and called on the army to strengthen the military deployment along the southern seam, until Israel completes the construction of the Separation wall.

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