Confrontation in Nativity Church in Bethlehem may end soon

The Palestinian authorities and the Israeli military top brass are continuing talks in Bethlehem in search of a solution to the critical situation around the Nativity Church. According to a RIA Novosti correspondent, both sides are expressing the hope for an early solution to the problem, but some details still remain unsolved. In particular, Israel demands that 15 Palestinian commanders involved in terrorist activities, according to the Israelis, be deported to the territory of the Palestinian Authority with no right to return. The Palestinians, according to some sources, agree to deport only eight people. To all appearances, Italy will be the country to host the deportees. Twenty-five Palestinian commanders are to be sent to Gaza to face Palestinian justice there. The rest 83 Palestinians /mainly priests and monks/ of those staying in the Church are claimed to have no relation to terrorist activities and are allowed to go wherever they want. Observers believe that the Israelis will time the Palestinians' final departure from the Nativity Church to the meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and US President George W. Bush due in Washington Tuesday.

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