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Israel Plans Troop Pullout During Palestinian Elections

Israel's Defense minister says Israeli troops will withdraw from Palestinian cities for 72 hours during January's Palestinian presidential election.

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz says troops will be absent from cities in the Palestinian territories from the day before the vote through the day after to help ensure the election goes smoothly.

Earlier, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said any talks with Palestinian leaders depend on whether they can stop militant attacks such as the huge explosion in Gaza Sunday that killed five Israeli soldiers and wounded five others.

Mr. Sharon said Monday Israel wants to move toward peace, but sees no corresponding movement by the Palestinian side.

Two Palestinian militant groups, Hamas and the Fatah Hawks, have claimed responsibility for detonating more than a ton of explosives in a tunnel beneath an Israeli army post.

Some information for this report provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.