Israel will likely transfer theWest Bank cities of Jericho and Tulkarm to Palestinian securitycontrol in the next few days, Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofazsaid on Tuesday.
Mofaz told reporters after a meeting with Palestinian leaderMahmoud Abbas, which was held at the Erez crossing on the Gaza-Israel border, that the two sides discussed steps to ease the dailylives of Palestinians.
Mofaz said the transfer was part of an overall "step-by-steppolicy."
"We must advance very cautiously," he said, adding the securityof Israeli citizens was the top priority. Mofaz also said Israelisecurity forces would continue to operate wherever they wereneeded.
Earlier in the day, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon adoptedMofaz's proposal that Jericho should be the first of five West Bankcities to be handed over.
Earlier reports indicated that Tulkarm would be the first cityto be transferred, after talks on Jericho went into difficulties.