RealNews

Egypt to Play Major Role in Gaza Pullout

With Egypt as a go-between, Israel and the Palestinians have begun contacts on a Gaza withdrawal, officials said Tuesday. At a meeting with Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman on Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for the first time expressed readiness to coordinate a proposed pullback with the Palestinians, even if indirectly or at a low level, according to a senior official. Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who met with Suleiman the same day, also indicated he was ready to deal, saying he would prepare a security blueprint for Gaza by June 15, the official said on condition of anonymity. Palestinians fear Sharon is trading Gaza for a tighter Israeli grip on much of the West Bank. Sharon proposes to evacuate all 21 settlements in Gaza and four small ones in the West Bank. Full Story

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