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Mofaz ready to coordinate pullback

Dec. 6, 2004 at 9:45 AM

TEL AVIV, Israel, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz has indicated Israel and the Palestinians might coordinate next year's pullback from the Gaza Strip and the northern West Bank.

Appearing before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Monday, Mofaz said if the Palestinians have a stable and pragmatic leadership, he would not rule out a coordinated and negotiated pullback.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has talked of a unilateral withdrawal, but he too publicly recognized the need for security coordination.

Coordination is important for determining who would take over the area Israel would vacate, Sharon Thursday told reporters.

Israel has been discussing these issues with Egypt but not the Palestinians, a senior Foreign Ministry official told UPI.

Senior Palestinian security official Jibril Rajoub Monday confirmed having heard in Cairo of plans to coordinate the pullback.

"I heard it, clearly, and I hope the Israelis would do so," Rajoub told Israel Radio.

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