Middle East Accord: Timetable for self-rule

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The Independent Online
UNDER the terms of the Declaration of Principles signed in September, elections for the Palestinian self-governing authority were to be held on 13 July. Because of delays in reaching agreement, Palestinians say they doubt elections will be held until 15 October.

In the Gaza Strip, the first effects of the accord were immediately felt. Israel released hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, and senior Palestinian police officers arrived to co-ordinate the deployment of 9,000 police who will take over once the Israeli army withdraws. An advance party of 1,000 policemen is due next week.

Israel says it could finish the withdrawal from Gaza and the Jericho area in 10 days. It says Mr Arafat has asked for four weeks. Israel wants a proper handover, so as not to leave a vacuum. No date is yet known for Mr Arafat's entry into Palestine, whether as PLO chairman or president of Palestine. In Arabic, president and chairman are the same: rais.

Negotiations on the final status of the occupied territories are to begin after not more than two years.

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