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Israeli foreign minister meets Palestinian leaders

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat, left, and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat, left, and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres  

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and various members of the new Palestinian administration held more talks Tuesday, the first high-level contact between the two sides in months.

Peres met with chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat and Palestinian Interior Minister Abdel Rzik Yehiyeh. On Monday, Peres and Palestinian Finance Minister Salam Fayed held a meeting in a "cordial and pleasant atmosphere," according to a Peres spokesman.

Sources said the talks have been wide-ranging, including discussion of financial and political issues.

The meetings started soon after Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon gave approval to Peres to meet with Palestinian officials. Officials said Sharon told Peres he could discuss steps to ease restrictions on residents of the West Bank and ways to renew security cooperation.

Israeli forces imposed curfews on most cities in the West Bank after two terror attacks in Jerusalem last month killed 26 Israelis.

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Fayed and Yehiyeh are involved in changes in the Palestinian administration demanded by the United States and Israel as a condition for resuming the peace process.

The two were authorized by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who is also under pressure from Arab countries and from inside the Palestinian territories to enact changes aimed at cleaning up corruption, providing for the separation of powers and guaranteeing the rights of Palestinians.

In another development that reflects the possible easing of political tensions between Israel and the Palestinians, Israeli government spokesman Ra'anan Gissin said Israel has decided in principle to look into ways that Palestinian Authority funds frozen by Israel could be transferred to the Palestinians on the provision that they not be used for terror.

Israeli police raid Palestinian university

Israeli authorities carry material confiscated from offices at Al-Quds University in East Jerusalem.  

On Tuesday, Israeli police closed the offices of the president of Al-Quds University in East Jerusalem.

Israeli Public Security Minister Uzi Landau issued the order, saying the university is an arm of the Palestinian Authority.

Sari Nusseibeh, the university president, is in Greece. He has been the senior Palestinian representative in Jerusalem since the death of Faisal Husseini.

According to Dimitri Dilani, Nusseibeh's office director, Israeli policemen and special forces raided the Al Quds offices.

Employees were ordered out of their offices, and papers were confiscated.

Dilani denied the university was associated with the Palestinian Authority.

Other developments

  • A ranking member of the militant group Islamic Jihad was shot and killed Tuesday in an ambush on a car in the West Bank village of Yamoun near Jenin, Palestinian security sources said. The dead man was identified as Muammar Daraghmeh, 30. Sources said other passengers in the vehicle were not harmed and escaped.
  • Also Tuesday, a Palestinian passer-by was killed and an Israeli policeman wounded by a Palestinian gunman, Jerusalem police said. Police arrested a suspect, who is from the Hebron area in the West Bank. Police said the incident happened when an Israeli policeman stopped a Palestinian man whom he considered suspicious-looking.




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