Mofaz: Israel Prepared to Hand Security Responsibility to New Palestinian Leadership

(New York Times) Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said in an interview Wednesday that Israel is prepared to hand security responsibility for the Gaza Strip and the main population centers of the West Bank to a newly elected Palestinian leadership as soon as it is able to handle the task. "The moment they can take responsibility over certain areas, I am willing to give them this responsibility," he said. What Israel wants in return is a "100 percent effort to break the cycle of terrorist activity and dismantle the terrorist groups." The death of Arafat has "created an opportunity we cannot miss," he said. "I don't want Israeli troops in the Palestinian towns. We are there now because we have no other choice; we have to stop the suicide bombers. We don't want all these roadblocks and checkpoints to exist," Mofaz said. "But if they will not be a partner and stop the violence," he said, "then we will stop the violence for them." Speaking of Abbas's campaign, he said, "There are big differences the day before an election and the day afterward, when someone feels responsibility on his shoulders."

2005-01-06 00:00:00

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