Another important step in Israel’s disengagement from Gaza has been taken. . An Egyptian intelligence chief has met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to discuss security in the Strip after Israel completes its troop withdrawal in mid-September. Egyptian officials, who also had talks with representatives of 13 Palestinian armed factions, are expected to have further negotiations with Israel on the Rafah border crossing.Rafah is under tight Israeli control and its handover to the Palestinian Authority or a third party could open the gates for many people in Gaza to leave the territory for the first time in years. European foreign policy chief Javier Solana is in the region to discuss a possible EU role. It is thought it would centre on customs and border controls around Gaza after Israel’s troop withdrawal. Meanwhile, the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, has indicated there could be further closures of Jewish settlements in the West Bank. He is reported to have said in an interview that not all will remain in place. Four settlements in the West Bank were evacuated in tandem with the Gaza pullout.
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