Israel issues West Bank security plan
JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israel's defense minister issued a series of security and civilian measures for the West Bank and Gaza Thursday, saying in a statement he hoped they would restore "calm to the area."
In return, Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer called on the Palestinian Authority to carry out "intensive activity against the terror infrastructure" so peace plans could be implemented.
"These measures began last night and will continue throughout the day," said the statement from the defense minister's office.
The move comes just ahead of U.S. Mideast peace envoy Gen. Anthony Zinni's return to the region Thursday.
Zinni left the Middle East in the midst of escalating violence following the assassination of an Israeli Cabinet minister. Much of the violence has since subsided.
The announcement came only hours after the Israeli army withdrew overnight from Jenin and the A-Tira neighborhood in Ramallah, Israel Defense Forces said Thursday.
In addition, IDF said the checkpoint at Ramin has been opened near the city of Tulkarem.
"IDF forces will continue to implement the plan to ease restrictions on the Palestinian population according to the political instructions," an IDF statement said.
The measures in the defense minister's statement include:
-- Lifting of closure from the cities of Qalqilya, Tulkarem, Jenin and Hebron. The closure surrounding Ramallah and Nablus will continue
-- Withdrawl of Israeli forces from Areas A in Jenin, Nablus and the neighborhood of A-Tira in Ramallah
-- Moving tanks back from areas close to the civilian population
-- Easing the pressure at the Kalandia checkpoint
-- Easing travel restrictions on the roads in the West Bank
-- Easing travel restrictions on the Gaza-Rafah road
-- Rafah border crossing will operate until midnight
-- The defense minister has given instructions to allow the movement of Palestinian police from the West Bank to Gaza and vice versa
-- Entrance of permanent Palestinian workers at the international border crossings of Allenby and Rafah
"The defense minister hopes these measures will help to calm the area and calls on the Palestinian Authority to respond to these measures by carrying out intensive activity against the terror infrastructure, in order to promote the beginning of the implementation of the Tenet and Mitchell plans," the statement said.
The defense minster's statement refers to the cease-fire that CIA Director George Tenet brokered in June and the confidence-building measures recommended in the Mitchell report, put together by former U.S. Senator George Mitchell.
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