Israel to withdraw from four cities

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The Independent Online

Israel agreed last night to withdraw its troops from four more West Bank cities within two weeks.

In a bid to revive the badly bruised peace process, it also authorised a trip by Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian President, to Gaza to visit the mourning tent of his sister, who died in Cairo on Wednesday.

Jericho and Qalqilya will be handed back to Palestinian control next week. Ramallah and Tulkarem will follow a week later. At first Israel refused to pull out of Jericho and Qalqilya, but agreed after pressure from the United States.

The concessions emerged from a two-hour meeting between Shaul Mofaz, the Israeli Defence minister, and his Palestinian opposite number, Mohammed Dahlan.

Israel also agreed to remove roadblocks as it retreated from the cities and freed a further 73 Palestinian prisoners yesterday.