Talks on Tulkarem break up without agreement

Talks between Israelis and Palestinians on the handover of this West Bank town to Palestinian security control ended without agreement on Monday, but Israeli officials said negotiations would resume later in the day and deal was near.

Control over Tulkarem was to have reverted to the Palestinians on Monday, but the timetable was placed in doubt after a meeting of security commanders on Sunday evening broke up in disagreement. The dispute focused over control of key West Bank roads and villages in the area, participants said.

A subsequent meeting on Monday ended without an agreement, but Israeli officials said only technical details remained and that they would meet again later in the day. The officials said the pullout could begin by the end of the day.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they had proposed a compromise turning over the city of Tulkarem immediately, while agreeing to discuss the fate of the villages in two weeks. The villages would revert to Palestinian control in a month if no security problems developed there, they said.

Palestinian officials did not confirm the compromise, saying only that Israel had rejected a proposal they presented.

Similar disputes held up the transfer of the isolated desert oasis of Jericho, which took place last week. Tulkarem, located on the Israel-West Bank line, is in a much more sensitive location.

Associated Press

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