JERUSALEM (CNN) # An agreement between Israeli and Palestinian leaders will see security in Gaza transferred back to the Palestinians as early as Monday, sources tell CNN.
At the same time, Palestinian militants plan to announce a three-month halt to attacks against Israel, the sources say.
U.S. national security adviser Condoleezza Rice was scheduled to arrive in the region Saturday to meet Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, U.S. officials said.
Rice’s visit, which is expected to include talks with other Israeli and Palestinian officials, is seen as an effort to help jump-start the so-called “road map” peace plan.
Israeli and Palestinian leaders met Thursday night at the U.S. ambassador’s residence in Herzliya, near Tel Aviv, and reached an agreement in principle to transfer security in Gaza back to Palestinian control from the Israeli military.
The White House applauded the agreement, saying it “represents a first significant joint step toward implementation of commitments made by each party at the Aqaba summit.”
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said in Washington that the agreement “is an early step. A lot more has to happen in the days ahead to make sure that this opportunity is not lost.”
Palestinian security sources said the plan would include the withdrawal of Israeli forces from northern Gaza and removal of almost all Israeli internal checkpoints in Gaza.
Under the deal, the crossing from the Rafah refugee camp from the south into Egypt will be reopened, and people from age 15 to 35 who had been prohibited from leaving Gaza will be permitted to travel abroad, the sources said.
There is also a security deal for Bethlehem in the West Bank.
An Israeli security source confirmed that Israeli and Palestinian commanders will start coordinating the details of the security change in Gaza and Bethlehem in preparation.
He said the Palestinians promised to do their best to stop Qassam rocket attacks and incitement to terror, but didn’t go into detail about how the Palestinians would approach militant groups and their infrastructure.
The Israelis said they reached an agreement on “ticking bombs,” or imminent attacks. When they have intelligence information about potential attacks, they will give it to Palestinians, the source said.
But if Israel sees the Palestinians are not doing anything with the intelligence, Israel will then act as it sees fit.
Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said in private meetings the first and main purpose of the road map will be accomplished with the security change and it is in the Palestinians’ interest, the source said.
Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine are also involved in the discussions. The groups involved in the talks have each conducted attacks on Israeli civilians.
Announcement expected Sunday
In Gaza, senior Hamas and Islamic Jihad officials confirmed that militants will agree to a temporary cease-fire, and the announcement is expected Sunday.
Palestinian militant factions, who have been discussing an agreement, will hand a cease-fire document to Abbas with conditions.
One is expected to be the lifting of the siege on Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat, who has been confined in his Ramallah compound for months, a source told CNN. Another possible condition could involve the releasing of Palestinian prisoners.
The Palestinian Authority leadership, which has been trying to broker a cease-fire with militant groups, has been saying there is an agreement in principle but the details need to be worked out.
Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin said discussions are continuing between the militant factions. A source said that all the Palestinian militant groups are expected to sign on to the cease-fire.