Officials: Sharon, Abbas could meet within one week
Egypt to return ambassador within 10 days; Jordan requests approval for new ambassador.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas may meet within a week, senior Israeli and Palestinian officials said Wednesday.
The meeting, to take place at Sharon's Sycamore Ranch in the Negev, could take place "in the coming days or a week," said senior Sharon advisor Ra'anan Gissin.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath confirmed the meeting could take place within a week.
Egyptian ambassador to return within 10 daysEgypt's ambassador will return to Israel in a week or 10 days, the Egyptian cabinet spokesman said Wednesday.
Asked when Egypt would send back its ambassador to Israel, cabinet spokesman Magdi Radi told Reuters: "In a week or 10 days." He said the ambassador had yet to be selected.
In another move signaling the possible return of Jordan's ambassador to Tel Aviv, Jordanian Foreign Minister Hani al-Mulki on Wednesday presented Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom and official request to approve the appointment of a new ambassador to Israel.
The request names Dr. Ma'aruf al-Bakhit, who currently serves as the kingdom's envoy to Turkey. Egypt has yet to submit an official request to approve an ambassador.
Radi was speaking after a cabinet meeting at which ministers were briefed on Tuesday's summit between Egypt, Israel, the Palestinians and Jordan in Sharm el-Sheikh, where Egypt said it had decided to return its ambassador to Israel.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit announced the envoy's return after Palestinians and Israelis made commitments at the summit, held at the Egyptian Red Sea resort, aimed at ending four years of bloodshed.
Egypt withdrew its ambassador in November 2000 in protest at Israel's handling of the uprising.
Jordan, which also withdrew its ambassador, also announced after the summit that it will return its envoy to Israel.
Abbas: Israel has agreed to remove West Bank roadblocksPalestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said Wednesday that Israel has agreed to remove major roadblocks as part of its withdrawal from five West Bank cities in coming weeks.
A senior Israel Defense Forces official confirmed that several roadblocks would be removed as part of the handover of security to the Palestinians.
In the coming three weeks, Israel is to hand over security control in the towns of Jericho, Tul Karm, Qalqilyah, Bethlehem and Ramallah. The timetable was agreed to at Tuesday's Sharm el-Sheikh summit between Abbas and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
Returning to his West Bank office Wednesday, Abbas said: "The Israelis will withdraw from the cities and the adjacent areas and they will leave checkpoints, and Palestinian security forces will replace them at these checkpoints."
Israel reopens Erez crossing in nod to PAIsrael reopened the Erez crossing between Israel and Gaza on Wednesday as one of several gestures meant to ease the lives of Palestinians following the Israeli-Palestinian summit held in Sharm el-Sheikh, the head of Israel's Gaza liaison office said Wednesday.
Some 1,000 Palestinian workers will be able to go through the crossing into Israel starting Thursday, Col. Yoav Mordechai told Israel Radio.
Israel has not granted Gazans work permits for several months.
The gestures were approved Tuesday night by Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz. Several of the planned gestures were slated to take effect on Wednesday, and others will be implemented in the coming days.
As part of the gestures, several hundred businesspeople from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank will also be granted entry permits to Israel.
Several hundred Gaza Strip Palestinians will be allowed to work at the Erez Industrial Zone in northern Gaza, and 400 Palestinians who work for international relief agencies will be allowed to travel freely between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
Mofaz also decided to renew visiting privileges for family members of Palestinian inmates detained in Israeli prisons.
The Gush Katif Junction in the Gaza Strip will be open continuously to Palestinian traffic, though the traffic will be limited to public transportation and PA security forces vehicles.
Despite the mutual cease-fire declarations in Sharm el-Sheikh, there were several isolated violent incidents in the territories. Several shots were fired at an Israeli vehicle traveling to the West Bank settlement of Brakha, near Nablus on Tuesday afternoon. Militants threw a firebomb and several fires were shot at IDF forces that entered the nearby village of Kleel.
Early on Tuesday, IDF forces were operating near the Gaza settlement of Gadid and were fired upon.
In addition, IDF forces arrested a wanted Fatah militant and a wanted Hamas man in a village north of Nablus.