Diplomats Drafting Plan to Restore Some Power in Gaza to Palestinian Authority

A plan to create a new foothold in Gaza for the Palestinian Authority and to bring in international monitors was being drawn up by diplomats Friday as a U.N. cease-fire call was dismissed by both sides, the Times of London reports.

The plan would allow a return of the authority, led by the secular Fatah faction, to the territory 18 months after it was expelled by the Islamist Hamas. Diplomats are considering taking a triangle at the southern end of Gaza, including the Rafah crossing to Egypt and the Kerem Shalom crossing to Israel, to be policed by Turkish and French military monitors to stop arms smuggling into Gaza, the Times reports.

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The zone would nominally be controlled by the authority, the internationally recognized Government. Such a plan would allow the crossings to reopen for the first time since Hamas seized power in Gaza in June 2007.

The plan is being negotiated as part of the Egyptian peace initiative, announced by President Mubarak after talks with President Sarkozy of France, which calls for an immediate cease-fire to be followed by talks on securing the Gaza-Egypt border and reopening the crossings.

It faces formidable obstacles. Diplomats said Friday that the Egyptian efforts were getting bogged down because of disagreements over how to secure the border.

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