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Israel and the Palestinian Authority hold talks on Gaza withdrawal

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Israel and the Palestinian Authority hold talks on Gaza withdrawal

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Despite protests against Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s planned withdrawal from Gaza, preparations are continuing for the pullout.

Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz yesterday held a meeting with Mohammed Dahlan, the Palestinian Minister for Civil Affairs, who is responsible for coordinating the Palestinian side of the disengagement plan. They were joined by James Wolfensohn, the former World Bank president, who is now special envoy for the so-called Middle East peace “quartet” comprising the US, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations. The main topic of the discussion was future border arrangements. Israel is concerned that weapons smugglers will move in once it pulls out of Gaza. After weeks of negotiations, Wolfensohn said Israel and the Palestinians had reached a moment of destiny and that the next few weeks could shape their relations for the next decade. If we get it wrong here, it will be very difficult to put right, he added.