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Abbas looks for security and cease-fires

Palestinian Authority says forces being redeployed in Gaza


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New Palestinian leader is under pressure from militants and Israel.
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GAZA CITY (CNN) -- Palestinian Authority security officials said Wednesday they had begun redeploying their forces in Gaza to stop attacks on Israel.

Israeli and Palestinian security officials were to meet Wednesday night at the Palestinians' request to coordinate the redeployment effort, according to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's office.

But Sharon's office maintained that formal, high-level contacts with the Palestinian Authority will remain suspended until it takes action to stop attacks on Israelis.

Israel suspended all contacts Friday after a Palestinian militant attack at the Karni Crossing killed six Israeli civilians. (Full story)

The Palestinians said that redeployment would take at least three days to put together but that security officials would begin patrolling towns and cities throughout Gaza on Wednesday evening.

The moves come as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas continues talks with militants in Gaza, seeking to persuade them to declare a cease-fire with Israel.

Shortly after Abbas' arrival Tuesday in Gaza, a Hamas suicide bomber set off a blast at the Gush Katif junction, killing himself and an Israeli intelligence service officer and wounding eight Israelis. (Full story)

But Israeli Radio quoted Abbas as saying Wednesday he still believed Hamas would agree to stop attacks.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Sha'ath also said he expected a cease-fire agreement to be arranged soon.

"No cease-fire in the world can succeed if only one part maintains it. The two parties have to maintain it," Sha'ath said.

"What we are trying to do is to reach a Palestinian consensus to go to the Israelis and the world [saying] that the Palestinians are ready for a total cessation of violence and the Israelis should reciprocate mutually and at the same time."

While the Palestinians were sounding notes of optimism, Sharon's office said his security cabinet approved a plan Wednesday evening for a large-scale invasion of Gaza if Abbas and the Palestinian Authority don't make the attacks stop.

Abbas and the Palestinian Authority are under heavy pressure from the United States and Israel to halt attacks such as the one last week at Karni Crossing.

On the other side, Abbas faces pressure from Palestinian militants who want to continue their fight against the Israeli occupation of the territories and who have said they aren't willing to discuss a cease-fire so long as Israel targets their leaders for assassination.

Hamas, which has been telling Gaza residents that Israel is planning to withdraw from Gaza because of its armed resistance, has so far refused urging from Abbas that it stop attacks or turn over its arms.

A spokesman for Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the militant offshoot of the Fatah movement Abbas now leads, said in a TV interview Tuesday in the West Bank that his group had agreed to halt attacks on Israelis as the Palestinian leader requested.

Both Hamas and Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades are regarded by Israel and the United States as terrorist organizations.

In more violence Wednesday, two Palestinians were killed as they hurled a grenade at Israeli troops near a border crossing in northern Gaza, an Israeli army spokeswoman said.

In another incident, two Israeli soldiers were wounded, one moderately and one slightly, when Palestinians fired an anti-tank missile at their vehicle near Erez Crossing, the spokeswoman said.

CNN's Shira Medding and Guy Raz contributed to this report.


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