Israeli forces have begun handing over the town of Jericho to Palestinian security control - the first of five West Bank towns Israel has pledged to turn over.

Israeli and Palestinian security commanders met at a checkpoint just outside Jericho for Wednesday's ceremonial handover.

After the ceremony, Israeli troops began turning over several other checkpoints around the town to Palestinian security forces.

In the coming days, Israel is to hand over the town of Tulkarem and, after that, Qalqiliya. But no timetable has yet been set for Ramallah and Bethlehem.

Meanwhile, in Cairo, Egyptian and Palestinian officials and Palestinian militant leaders are discussing a proposal for a one-year stop to Palestinian attacks on Israeli targets.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon says Palestinians must dismantle the militant groups in addition to agreeing to a cease-fire.

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