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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 August, 2004, 20:55 GMT 21:55 UK
Palestinian police allowed guns
Armed Palestinian police officers in Gaza City
Police in Gaza have effectively ignored the Israeli ban
The Israeli defence minister has agreed in principle to lift a ban on Palestinian police officers carrying weapons in the Occupied territories.

Shaul Mofaz decided to ease the ban - imposed after the uprising which began in 2000 - during talks with Israeli army and security chiefs.

Palestinian officials were waiting for official confirmation of the move.

Gaza policemen have largely ignored the ban but its lifting will have an impact on officers patrolling the West Bank.

"Mr Mofaz has decided the Palestinian police can progressively once again carry weapons and this decision will be applied to a list of police drawn up by Shin Beth [Israel's domestic security service]," a defence ministry spokesman was quoted as saying by AFP news agency.

"This measure should allow Palestinian Authority police to confront the situation of anarchy in the territories."

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said earlier that officials were to meet Israeli counterparts within days to discuss the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Palestinian areas and their replacement with armed local police.

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