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Israel hands over control of 2nd West Bank town

Israel transferred control of Tulkarem to Palestinian security forces on Tuesday, the 2nd of 5 West Bank towns slated for handover.

Israel transferred control of Tulkarem to Palestinian security forces on Tuesday, the second of five West Bank towns slated for handover.

Israeli and Palestinian commanders shook hands at a gate that had blocked traffic between the town and other parts of the West Bank.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon agreed to the transfers of power as part of an informal truce reached in early February.

Before Tulkarem's gate was unlocked, Palestinians had to travel a six-kilometre loop to get onto the main road connecting Tulkarem with Nablus, the West Bank's largest city.

Masked gunmen fired weapons into the air Monday night to celebrate the beginning of the handover.

Israel handed over control of Jericho last week. Qalqiliya is the next town set to be handed over, followed by Bethlehem and then Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian government.

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