Israel, PA Negotiating Restoration of Palestinian Security Control Over West Bank Cities
JNS.org – Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) have been secretly negotiating a gradual restoration of Palestinian security control over West Bank cities, Israeli officials told Haaretz.
The proposal stipulates that the Israel Defense Forces would cease operating in Area A, which includes the larger Palestinian cities and villages, except for cases of extreme urgency referred to as “ticking bomb” situations.
The first Palestinian cities proposed for IDF withdrawal are Ramallah and Jericho, with other cities to follow if the plan succeeds.
The talks have been initiated by Coordinator of Government Affairs in the Territories head Gen. Yoav Mordechai and leader of the IDF Central Command Ronny Numa. Also participating in the discussions were PA Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh, head of the PA intelligence services Mahjid Faraj, and the PA’s head of preventive security, Ziyad Hab el-Reikh.
While talks about the proposed plan are currently stalled, they could still resume, officials said. “It will not come to fruition unless we also receive things from the Palestinians,” one Israeli official said.
Although the Oslo Accords call on the PA to control security in the West Bank, the IDF has been operating in Area A since 2002’s Operation Defensive Shield.
A source close to Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who is a member of the Jewish state’s security cabinet, criticized the proposal because it outsources “the security of Israeli citizens to the Palestinian Authority.” The proposal, said the source, “means moving backward after the achievements of Operation Defensive Shield, and we will fight against it with all our might. Only the IDF will defend Israeli citizens.”