Palestinians arrest own policemen

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The Palestinian Authority said yesterdayit had arrested 15 of its own security force members on suspicion of participating in attacks on Israelis – the first time since the intifada began 15 months ago that Palestinian policemen have been taken into custody.

Israeli and Palestinian officials were to meet yesterday in the first direct contact since Israel cut ties last week with the Palestinian Authority leader, Yasser Arafat. Israel's Foreign Minister, Shimon Peres, said: "If they [PA] take over [acting against militants], we shall immediately withdraw our forces."

In recent days, more than two dozen offices of Hamas and Islamic Jihad have been shut by the Palestinian Authority. Among those detained were policemen who joined militias, including the Al-Aqsa Brigade, linked to Mr Arafat's Fatah movement. (AP)