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Sharon Vows Free and Fair Palestinian Elections

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has asked his cabinet to approve a range of measures meant to ensure next month's Palestinian elections are conducted in a free and fair atmosphere.

The arrangements include granting Palestinians freedom of movement, and allowing candidates to campaign in disputed East Jerusalem. Israeli troops would also pull out of Palestinian population centers immediately before the vote.

Israel has long limited Palestinian activity in East Jerusalem, which it captured and annexed after the 1967 Mideast War. Both sides want Jerusalem for a capital.

At today's cabinet meeting, Mr. Sharon told the ministers it was important to show "the whole world that Israel allowed free, fair and efficient elections."

The January 9 poll comes in the wake of the death on November 11 of longtime Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.