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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

New Israel-PLO Accord Expands Self-Rule Limits

CAIRO --Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization have clinched an accord giving autonomy to Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank in five important areas of life, opening a new chapter in their 11-month-old peace deal.

The agreement, initialled by PLO chief negotiator Nabil Shaath and his Israeli counterpart Danny Rothschild in Cairo on Wednesday, expands PLO leader Yasser Arafat's foothold beyond the Gaza Strip and Jericho to parts of the West Bank.

"We succeeded in making an agreement that is historical," Shaath told a news conference. "It is one step further towards a just and a lasting peace in our Middle East and in the world."

Shaath said the timetable for the transfer of powers in all the five fields -- education, health, tourism, social welfare and taxation -- must be completed in September after a meeting of donor countries in Paris on Sept. 9.

The initialling of the agreement, outlined in a peace deal in Washington, opens the way for another phase of the accord -- redeployment of Israeli troops in the West Bank, the deployment of Palestinian police and Palestinian national elections.

Rothschild and Shaath said the agreement has to be approved by their governments over the weekend before the final signing. Shaath expected the signing to take place in Erez in the Gaza Strip on Sunday but Rothschild would not set a time nor a venue.