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Israel to Allow 600 Palestinian Police to Take Positions in Jenin

Israel says it will allow up to 600 foreign-trained Palestinian police to be deployed in the West Bank town of Jenin, site of frequent clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak Tuesday announced the move, which is part of a series of measures to try to restore order in the West Bank.

Mr. Barak said he will discuss the deployment when he meets Wednesday with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. Mr. Fayyad said Tuesday Palestinian forces are capable of achieving security in areas where they are deployed.

Israel's announcement came a few days before a visit to the region by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who will focus on pushing forward Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Israel considers Jenin as a stronghold of West Bank militants and has conducted military operations to hunt down wanted men.

On Monday, Mr. Barak said Israel is considering gestures to ease restrictions on Palestinians in the West Bank. The measures would include lifting temporary roadblocks and creating easier access for Palestinian business people and government officials.

Barak said the gestures are meant to help improve the atmosphere in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

In other news, the European Commission has released about $460 million in aid for public services and other necessities in the Palestinian territories. The money was originally promised in December at an international aid conference in Paris, where total pledges to the Palestinians reached about $7.5 billion.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.