Israel shelves withdrawal plan

06 September 2002

Israeli tanks killed four Palestinians in a raid on the Gaza Strip after high-level talks between Israeli and Palestinian officials were cancelled on 28 August, stalling the proposed Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and the West Bank.

Israeli Defence Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer called off the meeting with Palestinian Interior Minister Abdel Razaq Yehiya, after Israel reported that Palestinians were trying to smuggle arms into Gaza by sea. Israeli sources said the incident highlighted the reluctance of Palestinian security forces to clamp down on armed groups, a key element of the faltering 'Gaza-Bethlehem First' agreement. 'Ben Eliezer made it clear to the Palestinians that he expects from them vigorous action to halt terrorism and violence, as well as smuggling by sea and on land,' the Defence Ministry said. The Palestinians accuse Israel of reneging on its side of the agreement, saying that Israel never intended to implement the troop pullback.

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