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Arafat, Barak agree to resume low-level security cooperation
CNN Correspondent Fionnuala Sweeney contributed to this report.
MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) -- Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak agreed Friday to resume low-level security cooperation and to reopen liaison offices closed a day earlier by the Israelis after an Israeli officer was killed by a bomb planted in one of them.
Barak and Arafat spoke by phone while Arafat was in Moscow meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, seeking ways to end the violence that has cost more than 270 lives -- mostly Palestinians -- since September 28.
Kremlin aides said the two Middle Eastern leaders agreed that coordination of security matters was crucial to ending the violence, and senior Barak adviser Gilead Sher told CNN that the district liaison offices would reopen "as soon as the mechanisms of cooperation are established."
The liaison offices, set up under the Oslo agreement, were intended to monitor and coordinate cooperation between the Israelis and Palestinians on civil matters. The offices are the last tangible evidence of cooperation between Palestinian and Israeli security forces.
Sher also said that Israel had agreed to lift a blockade on Palestinian towns and cities once the violence has ended.
"I can confirm that there was a list of certain concrete measures to be taken by both parties simultaneously or gradually involving a deeper and deeper involvement of civil and security matters," he said. "I think that once the violence is dramatically reduced, we could go ahead with these measures and proceed towards a full stoppage of violence and incitement."
But chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told CNN he didn't "want to exaggerate" the importance of the phone call and called for the Israelis to "accurately implement" agreements already in place.
"We have to see a day without Palestinian funerals," said Erakat. "These attacks against Palestinians ... it must end. The government of Israel is dancing according to the rhythm of Israeli settlers and extremists. This must stop and it's all in Israeli hands."
No end to violence
Arriving in Moscow on Friday, Arafat said he would be discussing a solution to the Middle East crisis with Putin.
"This is one of the most important steps we are going to discuss," he said. "We are sure to find a solution. (It is important) not to forget that Russia is a co-sponsor of the peace process and they have a political role."
But while Arafat was in Moscow, violent clashes between Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza claimed eight lives Friday.
The dead included one Israeli soldier, an Israeli civilian, and six Palestinians, two of whom were brothers. One Palestinian died Friday from wounds suffered last week.
Across the region, about 70 Palestinians were injured.
In one deadly incident, Palestinian gunmen shot an Israeli army officer near the Jewish settlement of Gush Katif in Gaza on Friday, the Israeli army said.
Maj. Sharon Arameh, 25, was cut down "by Palestinian gunfire" from the Palestinian self-rule town of Khan Younis close to the Mediterranean coast, said a statement from the Israeli army.
An Israeli motorist was killed Friday when his car was ambushed between Nablus and Ramallah in the West Bank.
Two Palestinian brothers were killed by Israeli gunfire near the city of Nablus, hospital officials said. Two Palestinians were shot dead in separate incidents in the West Bank town of Jenin, and another Palestinian was killed in the town of Qalqiliya. A sixth Palestinian was shot and killed near Rafah in southern Gaza, according to hospital officials.
Thousands of Palestinians held a funeral for Ibrahim Bani Odeh, a suspected bomb maker and Islamic militant who was killed Wednesday. Palestinians said Odeh was assassinated by Israelis, but the Israelis denied the charge.
Odeh's death followed a series of tit-for-tat attacks, including a Palestinian car bombing that wrecked a Hadera city bus and killed two Israelis.
Israeli officials said Israel would not retaliate for the car bombing, but Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh told Israeli Radio, "The last word hasn't been said yet."
Strained relations with Egypt
Meanwhile, Egypt has joined the growing number of Middle East nations, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, to criticize Israel.
Arab nations have requested a U.N. Security Council meeting to spotlight the rising death toll and rally support for a 2,000-strong U.N. force of unarmed observers to protect civilians. Israeli rejects such a force, saying it would be a reward for recent Palestinian violence.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak also gave a stern warning on Friday that "terror" could spread unless bloodshed between Israelis and Palestinians ends.
In an interview published by the al-Gomhuria and Egyptian Gazette dailies, Mubarak also said that peace was the only guarantee of regional stability, but that Israel had done nothing to halt the violence and return to the negotiating table.
"Peace is the only guarantee for the region's countries to have stability and to embark on their development plans," Mubarak said. "There can be no stability or development under violence, tension, terror and frozen peace."
Earlier this week, Egypt recalled its ambassador from Israel in protest against what it called Israeli "aggression" against Palestinians. The Egyptian move was not a break in diplomatic relations.
Egypt, which in 1979 became the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel, recalled the envoy after Israeli missile strikes on Palestinian targets in Gaza, which were carried out in reprisal for a bomb blast that killed two adults and wounded several settler school children on a school bus Monday.
Barak will send senior adviser Dani Yatom to Egypt on Saturday to confer with Mubarak on Mideast peace, his office told CNN.
Diplomacy surges after latest Mideast violence
Israeli Governments Official Website
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