Palestinian officials say Israel has agreed in principle to transfer control of the volatile West Bank town of Jenin to the Palestinian Authority, before it abandons four nearby Jewish enclaves in August.

A Palestinian Interior Ministry spokesman says the Israeli handover will give Palestinian police a better chance of controlling militants and discouraging looters in Jenin once Israel leaves.

However, Israel says no timetable has been set for the handover, and says it first wants Palestinians to disarm militants in the town.

Israel is set to evacuate the Gaza Strip and the four enclaves in August. It also has promised to pull back from five West Bank towns.

Jenin is not among the five towns. But Israeli sources say the army now sees it as a liability it wants to be rid of.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters, AP.