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Israel Resumes Contact with Palestinians


Israel has agreed to hold security talks with Palestinian officials, reversing a total ban on contacts ordered by Israel last week after a deadly attack by Palestinian militants in Gaza. Wednesday's decision comes after newly elected Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas ordered his security forces in Gaza to crack down on militants launching attacks against Israelis.

Israeli and Palestinian field commanders met Wednesday night to coordinate new security operations in the Gaza Strip.

The move comes after Israel cut all contacts with the Palestinian Authority last week following a deadly attack against Israelis at the commercial crossing point between Israel and the Gaza Strip. But Israeli officials say the new security talks do not signal a complete resumption of wider-ranging contacts.

Israel has also threatened large scale military raids in Gaza unless reins in the militants.

Under pressure, Mr. Abbas spent the past two days trying to craft a ceasefire with militant groups.

"What we are trying to do is to reach a Palestinian consensus to go to the Israelis and the world with," said Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath.

Some Palestinian officials say Mr. Abbas is nearing a deal with the militants to accept a truce. However, there is no word from the armed groups that they are ready to lay down their weapons.

The top Palestinian security officer in Gaza and the West Bank, Abdel-Razek al Majaide, said Wednesday Palestinian security forces will be deployed along parts of the Gaza border with Israel to prevent militant attacks.

But Palestinian officials also say that any ceasefire or internal crack down against the militants can be successful only as long as Israel also respects the ceasefire and halts its military operations.

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