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Palestinian Lawmakers to Meet Tuesday in Ramallah - 2003-04-28

For the first time in two years, Israel is permitting all members of the Palestinian parliament to attend a meeting to approve a new government.

Israel says it will allow all 88 members of the Palestinian parliament to attend a session scheduled Tuesday in the West Bank city of Ramallah. The parliament is set to approve the appointment of Prime Minister-designate Mahmoud Abbas and a new cabinet.

The parliamentary session is important because President Bush has pledged that once the cabinet is installed, he will release a set of proposals for ending violence and establishing a Palestinian state by 2005.

The plan has the support of the United States, Russia, the European Union, and the United Nations.

For the past two years, because of an Israeli ban, at least seven lawmakers in Gaza have been prevented from entering the West Bank to attend parliamentary sessions. Israel imposed the ban because it said the lawmakers were tainted with terror.

To show solidarity with their colleagues, the other lawmakers in Gaza also refused to attend the sessions because of the Israeli ban.

Israel's decision to lift the ban was reported by Israeli media and confirmed by the deputy speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Ibrahim Abu Naja.

In a separate development, Israeli troops arrested two Palestinian militants in the West Bank city of Nablus. Israel says the two are responsible for a suicide bombing that killed a security guard last week at a train station.