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Israel orders implementation of Tenet truce

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Jewish boys look at a bullet hole in a pole near the location where two Israelis were shot Wednesday  


JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eleizer said Wednesday he has instructed the Israel Defense Forces to implement the Tenet truce plan over the coming week.

Israeli and Palestinian security officials earlier Wednesday met with U.S. CIA Director George Tenet after both sides approved his blueprint for a "cessation of hostilities."

Under the heading of "immediate action" in his written statement, Ben-Eleizer said that as Palestinians begin to stop and prevent terror attacks and violence, Israel will ease restrictions on the movement of Palestinian security forces and lift closures inside the Palestinian territories.

In addition, Ben-Eleizer said both sides are required to begin security coordination.

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Within 48 hours of his announcement, Israel is to carry out additional actions aimed at easing stresses on Palestinians and to begin to change deployment of Israeli forces, he said.

U.S. President George W. Bush, in Brussels, Belgium, for a meeting with NATO allies, said that he had spoken with Tenet and that the CIA director was "cautiously optimistic" about the future of relations between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

"This is just a first step, it's one thing for folks to sign a piece of paper, it's another thing for the parties to act," Bush said.

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres met with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell in Brussels on Wednesday night to discuss implementation of the Tenet plan. Powell also spoke with Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat Wednesday by telephone, State Department officials said, but no details of the conversation were available.

In the West Bank and Gaza, Palestinian groups denounced the deal, saying they should be allowed to continue the Palestinian uprising, or Intifada, as it is called.

Jewish settlers, who have been pushing Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to abandon a self-declared cease-fire, also decried the Tenet plan.

The plan's aim is to end the violence that has claimed about 600 lives; nearly 500 of them Palestinian and more than 100 Israeli, since last September, according to the Palestine Red Crescent Society and Israeli officials.

The blueprint follows recommendations by the Mitchell Committee, an independent, international panel headed by former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell.

The plan -- which would fulfill the first requirement of the Mitchell Committee report to stop the violence -- was hammered out in a meeting with Arafat in the early hours Wednesday.

Arafat said he would accept Tenet's proposals with reservations. On Tuesday, Israeli officials had done the same thing.

The Mitchell Committee report also calls for a number of confidence-building steps and a return to the bargaining table.

While the Palestinians accepted Tenet's blueprint, Palestinian sources said, they rejected a clause proposing a buffer zone around Palestinian-controlled areas.

Arafat, in a letter to Tenet, noted his acceptance of the blueprint but his rejection of the buffer zone clause and said the timetable for lifting Israeli closures of Palestinian territories should follow the Sharm el-Sheikh agreement, according to Palestinian sources.

That deal, reached at an Israeli-Palestinian summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, in October, called for closures to be lifted 48 hours after a cease-fire agreement was reached.

The Palestinian sources said Tenet promised the Palestinians there will be a timetable for the lifting of Israeli restrictions on Palestinian movement.

Another obstacle brought up in the meetings with Palestinians was the issue of arrests of Hamas and Islamic Jihad militant leaders. Israel had a list of those it demanded to be arrested.

Arafat has said he would arrest only people who broke the law after his June 1 declaration of a cease-fire.





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