Israel Offers Two More Towns

In this picture released by the Israeli Government Press Office Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, right, meets with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, left, in his house in Jerusalem, Tuesday, June 21, 2005.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon Tuesday offered to hand over to the Palestinians two more towns within two weeks if Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas shows efforts to control violence, Israeli officials said.

Sharon, meeting Abbas in a summit in Jerusalem, also said Israel would allow the return of some deportees to the West Bank and to consider releasing more Palestinian prisoners, all in exchange for increased Palestinian efforts to rein in militants, said the officials.

In other developments:

  • A passenger train collided with a truck near the Israeli city of Ashdod on Tuesday afternoon. Some passengers were thrown from the rail cars.
  • Israeli security cameras captured dramatic footage of a Palestinian woman strapped with explosives who tried to enter Israel from Gaza. Wafa al-Bass aroused the suspicion of soldiers, who found a 22-pound bomb strapped to her legs, under her traditional black robe. The woman had a permit to enter Israel for treatment of severe burns. She told interrogators that she planned to blow up the hospital where she was being treated by Israeli doctors, and hoped to kill as many children as possible. Later, in a television interview, she said she had been taken advantage of by Al-Aqsa Brigades, and begged forgiveness.
  • The Jerusalem municipality said Tuesday it has postponed plans to demolish 88 Arab homes in east Jerusalem to create a national park and was trying to negotiate a compromise with local residents. However, a representative of the residents, lawyer Sami Ershied, said tenants in the neighborhood of Silwan continue to receive demolition orders.