An Israeli Withdrawal from West Bank Cities

(Ha'aretz) Amos Harel - What are the chances that the plan to hand over responsibility for security in West Bank cities to the PA will succeed? The parties are close to agreeing on transferring Jericho and perhaps Bethlehem. Responsibility for Bethlehem has been transferred several times. The last time this happened during the hudna of summer 2003, Fatah networks in Bethlehem dispatched two suicide bombers to board buses in Jerusalem, killing 19 Israelis. The Shin Bet's investigation of the bombings uncovered heavy involvement of Palestinian security force members. According to IDF Col. Nadav Padan, "Bethlehem became a magnet for wanted suspects from the region, a safe haven for terrorists from Hebron and even Nablus, who knew they would be able to operate in a city that was beyond our reach due to the understandings reached." The Palestinians "had no intention of halting terrorist activity. They made do with patrols that stopped stone throwing and, in the best case, shooting at Jerusalem." This time, Padan says, the heads of the PA security forces "have been talking differently, both to us and to their own people. There is no more winking. It seems like a genuine intention to take responsibility for security into their own hands....The only remaining question is whether they can really do it." "The Palestinians have not changed their objectives....We cannot be deceived by the smiles and handshakes. If it works, it will succeed because of shared interests."

2005-02-11 00:00:00

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