Palestinian safe passage might be delayed

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Ben-Ami was speaking Tuesday after completing a round of talks with Palestinian Authority negotiators Jamil Tarifi and Sufian Abu Zayda.

Ben-Ami referred to the safe passage that will allow Gaza residents access to the West Bank via a terminal set up at Tarkumiya, near Hebron. Two terminals will screen Palestinians seeking to use the route, one for vehicles and shuttle buses and another for pedestrians.

The main problems concern security screening of the Palestinians, Ben-Ami said. Pedestrians and car owners will need the necessary permits, he added, and those who don't travel in their own cars will need to carry written permission from the vehicle's owner.

Ben-Ami noted that the whole concept is unprecedented and that there is no such passage in existence elsewhere.

In keeping with the recommendations of security officials, Israel has demanded full control over the security screening, which is to include identification procedures.

If the opening of the first passage is implemented in a good atmosphere, Ben-Ami said, then the northern safe passage route planned to end at Beit Horon will also open.

Other security sources Tuesday also expressed doubts that the passage will open as planned Sunday. They said the security process had yet to be coordinated between Israel's domestic intelligence agency Shin Bet and Palestinian security officials.