Rabin revokes planned expulsion of 11 Palestinians


JERUSALEM -- In another gesture to improve the climate of the Mideast peace talks, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin revoked yesterday the expulsion orders against 11 Palestinians accused of inciting terrorism in Israeli-occupied territories.

The action, which overturns orders issued in January by the previous government, came a day after Mr. Rabin announced the release of 800 Arab prisoners and a loosening of some restrictions on Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

"We hope it sends a signal of good will and contributes to a further improvement of the atmosphere at the negotiating table," said Gad Ben-Ari, the prime minister's spokesman.

Other officials said that one aim of the recent gestures was to strengthen support for the latest round of talks among Palestinians, many of whom complain that 10 months of negotiations have not changed day-to-day life.

The cancellation of the planned expulsions did not come as a great surprise, given earlier suggestions by Cabinet ministers that it would happen. Moreover, Israel had not exactly rushed to throw the men out of the territories, partly because their appeals were still before the courts but also because there was no apparent political desire to take a final action that might disrupt both the peace talks and Israel's recent election campaign.

Nonetheless, the formal revocation order was an unusual departure from a long-standing Israeli policy that has caused overseas condemnation and domestic debate about its effectiveness and propriety. Until now, nearly every announced deportation was ultimately carried out.

The announcement said that the cancellations did not mean that Israel had abandoned expulsions as a way to deal with security problems.

The 11 Palestinians affected -- 6 from Gaza and 5 from the West Bank -- will remain for six months in administrative detention, a procedure used to hold suspects for as long as a year without formal charges.

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