US issues Mid-East security plan

The US has issued a plan to Israel and the Palestinians for improving security and easing restriction on movement in the Palestinian territories.
The document, which was published in an Israeli newspaper, sets out a strict timetable for implementing the plan.

It requires the Israelis to dismantle a series of checkpoints near Bethlehem, Hebron and Nablus.

And it demands that the Palestinians establish, by the end of June, a plan to stop rocket fire from Gaza.
The Palestinian chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, welcomed the proposal, but he said the Palestinians would discuss the document further with the Americans.

There has been no immediate official Israeli comment.

The plan was written by the US security co-ordinator Maj Gen Keith Dayton, US Ambassador to Israel Dick Jones and US Consul-General in Jerusalem Jacob Walles.

Reports say it was approved by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who is expected in the region again around 15 May.

Detailed timetable

Clauses of the plan are accompanied by a precise date by which they must be implemented.
The document demands that Israel approve requests by Gen Dayton for the provision of weapons, ammunition and equipment for security forces under the control of Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas.

Israel and the PA are required to establish, no later than 1 July 2007, a bus service operating five days a week between the Erez checkpoint at Israel-Gaza border and the Tarqumiya roadblock at the entrance to Hebron in the West Bank.

Israel is required to remove specific roadblocks in the West Bank on specified dates.

The PA is required to develop a plan to stop Qassam rocket fire from Gaza no later than 21 June 2007.

Palestinian forces controlled by Mr Abbas are required to act to prevent arms smuggling in the Rafah area of southern Gaza in co-ordination with Israel, by the same date.

The plan stipulates that Palestinian security forces must be brought under the authority of Mr Abbas and Mohammed Dahlan, his national security, adviser by 15 June.

Both Israel and the Palestinians are required to re-establish the co-ordination and liaison headquarters in the West Bank.