Palestinians reject West Bank withdrawal plan

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The Independent Online
Palestinian negotiators yesterday rejected an Israeli government decision to pull troops out of 9 per cent of the West Bank, prompting a new crisis as Israel's foreign minister suggested this could delay the withdrawal.

"We totally rejected their percentage," said a Palestinian negotiator, Mohammed Dahlan, after a tense three-hour meeting with the Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy and other officials in Jerusalem. "We informed them that this was not acceptable." The Palestinians want 20 per cent of the area.

Over the next week, about 200,000 Palestinians in 50 towns and villages will come under the exclusive control of the Palestinian Authority led by Yasser Arafat while Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, fights to hold his coalition together.

Eight members of Mr Netanyahu's coalition say they will vote against him on a motion of no-confidence over the withdrawal in the Knesset, where he has a majority of 68 out of 120. Patrick Cockburn - Jerusalem

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