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ARABS-ISRAEL - Jun 1 - Sharon-Abbas Summit On Jun 21.

Israeli PM Ariel Sharon announces plans to hold a second summit with Palestinian Pres Mahmoud Abbas on June 21. The two leaders last met on Feb 8 in Egypt where they called a halt to 41/2 years of fighting. A statement from Sharon's office said the two would meet again on June 21 and that Israeli and Palestinian officials would meet beforehand to discuss the more than three-month-old truce and to co-ordinate Israel's planned Gaza pullout in August. The chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, told Reuters in the West Bank town of Ramallah that he and Sharon's top aide Dov Weisglass had agreed that Sharon and Abbas would meet again during the third week of June. Meanwhile, Israel is to release 400 Palestinian prisoners on Jun 2 in a move approved by the government earlier this week, the army said. "The IDF [Israel Defence Force], in coordination with the Israel prison service, is due to release 400 Palestinian prisoners tomorrow", the military said in a statement Jun 1. Most of the former detainees will be released at drop-off points near the West Bank cities of Tulkarem and Hebron from 10am, it added. Others will be handed over to relatives at West Bank checkpoints near Ramallah and Jenin as well as the Erez crossing between Israel and the occupied Gaza Strip, a spokesman added. Israel has said none of the 400 "have blood on their hands" or were detained for being involved in anti-Israeli attacks. Ministers approved the move by majority vote on May 29, nearly four months after PM Ariel Sharon pledged to free 900 detainees as part of a series of goodwill gestures at a Middle East summit. Senior Palestinians slammed what they saw as an insufficient decision. Sharon said the releases were needed to "strengthen the moderate elements within the Palestinian Authority" and respect commitments made at the February summit in the Egyptian resort of Sharm Al Shaikh. Israel released 500 prisoners soon after the February summit between Sharon and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas but had frozen the second batch following a Feb 25 suicide attack. Meanwhile, the municipality will push ahead with plans to demolish 88 homes in an Arab neighbourhood in occupied Jerusalem to make room for a national park, the city engineer overseeing the project said Jun 1. The plan has infuriated the Palestinians. It comes at a time of growing Israeli-Palestinian tension over the fate of occupied Jerusalem, a city claimed by both as a capital. The demolition campaign, if approved, would be one of the largest in east Jerusalem since Israel captured the traditionally Arab sector in the 1967 Mideast war. City engineer Uri Shetrit said nearly all homes in the part of Silwan marked for demolition had been built in violation of zoning regulations and that courts had already issued demolition orders against one-third of the 88 homes. Once the houses are razed, the park will be established", he added.
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Title Annotation:Ariel Sharon; Mahmoud Abbas
Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Geographic Code:7PALE
Date:Jun 4, 2005
Previous Article:ARAB AFFAIRS - May 30 - GCC Signs Deal With Turkey.
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