After four years of keeping its distance, the U.S. is jumping back in to the Middle East peace process.
Envoy William Burns will visit Israel, the West Bank and Gaza this week, reports CBS News Correspondent Robert Berger, in a new U.S. effort to revive the road map peace plan.
It's an opportune time. The new Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is close to securing a truce with Islamic militant groups, and Israel says it, too, is ready for a cease-fire.
In other developments:
Israeli and Palestinian generals were to meet later Tuesday to complete the deployment plan, said cabinet minister Saeb Erekat. Once the plan is approved, officers will take up positions in southern Gaza within 24 hours, he said.
The deployment is accompanied by a promise by militants to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to halt attacks on Israel, provided the Israeli military suspends operations, including arrest raids and targeted killings of wanted men. Israel has refused to give such a guarantee, but has said it will respond to calm with calm.
Over the weekend, some 3,000 Palestinian police deployed in the northern half of Gaza, mainly along the border fence with Israel, to prevent rocket attacks by Palestinian militants on Israeli communities. No rockets or mortars have hit Israeli communities since last week.
In Tuesday's meeting, the Israeli and Palestinian generals are to discuss police deployment in the southern half of Gaza, said Erekat, who is involved in negotiations with Israel. The meeting is to be attended by Palestinian Maj. Gen. Moussa Arafat and Israeli Brig. Gen. Aviv Kochavi.
Erekat said he has been in touch by phone with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's aides to prepare for a future summit between the Israeli and Palestinian leaders. He said contacts with Israel are going well, but that the two sides have not yet begun to discuss the content of a summit.
The Palestinians want to reach agreement before the summit on key issues, such as the release of prisoners and an Israeli troop redeployment in the West Bank.
Palestinian police commander Moussa Allaian said hundreds of structures would be torn down in Gaza City and the northern part of the coastal strip. Dozens of shops, cafes and kiosks have sprung up along the Mediterranean beach in recent years.
More than 200 heavily armed Palestinian police in uniform lined the street to protect the workers, but there was no violence and no resistance. A large crowd watched as two bulldozers leveled the structures.
Allaian said Abbas gave the order for the after-midnight operation.
"The president gave strict instructions to remove all buildings built illegally on government land," he said. "We are a new era now. We must respect the law," Allaian said.
There was no Israeli involvement, he said, and the operation was not near Israel or any Israeli settlements.