Arafat sacks security chiefs

JERUSALEM July 3. The Israeli Government approved a plan today to lift daytime curfews in Palestinian areas that are quiet, and may also allow up to 5,000 Palestinians to enter Israel to work.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, has dismissed two top security chiefs in a move seen as part of an effort to reshape the Palestinian security forces, officials said.

In a sign of Israel's new policy, the army removed the curfew for longer periods in four of the seven West Bank cities and towns it controls. But the curfew remained in place in the other three areas, and Israel warned that any easing of restrictions must be matched by calm in Palestinian areas. "The curfew will be limited to the night time — not during the daytime — which will enable people to move about freely inside the cities," said a Sharon spokesman, Raanan Gissin. "We will continue easing those restrictions ... on a case by case basis in a given city," he said.

Mr. Sharon's Security Cabinet also approved in principle a plan to permit 5,000 Palestinian workers to commute to Israel for jobs. The curfew was lifted today for 11 hours in Hebron. In three other places, the curfew was removed for periods of five to 10 hours.

The Defence Minister, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, said he would like to see the restrictions eased even more, but warned that Israel still faces the threat of suicide bombings. "On my desk there are warnings about men and women suicide bombers," he told Israel radio. "Today it is easier (for militant Palestinian groups) to find a suicide bomber than to find the explosives."

Mr. Arafat, who has been under intense pressure to restructure the security forces, sacked Jibril Rajoub, the preventive security chief in the West Bank, and Ghazi Jibali, the police chief in Gaza, Palestinian officials said. Mr. Rajoub told The Associated Press that he had been informed of Mr. Arafat's decision, while Mr. Jibali insisted the reports were "rumors." Mr. Rajoub is one of the most powerful figures in the West Bank but has fallen out with Mr. Arafat.

The U.S. and Israel have called for a new Palestinian leadership to replace Mr. Arafat. Britain has taken a less rigid position, and a visiting official met the Palestinian leader at his compound in Ramallah, which is surrounded by Israeli forces.

Mike O'Brien, the British Foreign Office Minister for West Asia, said the Palestinian Authority "needs to reform its institutions and create circumstances in which other representatives can come forward with whom we can deal, as well as President Arafat."

— AP

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