Israel to transfer W. Bank cities (JERUSALEM POST) By MARGOT DUDKEVITCH 01/31/05)
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The transfer of some West Bank cities to Palestinian Authority
security control is expected to take place within days, Defense
Minister Shaul Mofaz said Sunday.
PA security officials said the plan was to deploy in five West Bank
cities – Ramallah, Tulkarm, Kalkilya, Jericho and Bethlehem – on
According to the officials, the heavy influence of Hizbullah and Iran
on terror groups in Nablus, Jenin and Hebron will delay the transfer
of those cities.
An Israeli official said only: "Issues still have to be finalized at
a second meeting between Mofaz and PA security chief Muhammad Dahlan
which is expected this week. The transfer of security control over
the West Bank cities can only be carried out in accordance with a
government decision," he added.
Mofaz told Israel Radio he hoped that no IDF presence would remain in
the PA controlled areas by the end of the year.
Senior officers said that once the orders were given, troops would be
able to redeploy within a short time, noting that there was currently
no permanent IDF presence in any of the Palestinian cities. In some
areas, troops are deployed on the outskirts of some of the cities.
Israel is seeing a significant decrease in terror, but the calm can
best be described as fragile, Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe
Ya´alon said Sunday.
"We are prepared [to act] in the event that things change, but try
our best to allow the other side to do what is necessary to stop
terror," he said at Central Command headquarters during the ceremony
greeting its new commander, Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh, and bidding
farewell to Maj.-Gen. Moshe Kaplinsky.
The past 10 days of relative quiet have shown that there are those
among the Palestinians who finally realize that terror does not pay,
he said, warning, however, that the war is not over yet. "The terror
war has existed for more than 120 years and I believe it will
continue for a long time," he said.
Central Command´s top priority is to continue preventing terror
attacks, Naveh said.
"We will continue to be the settlers´ defensive shield and keep them
close to our hearts," he said. "We will carry out the government´s
decisions in spirit and to the letter even if it causes us great
pain," he added. "Even if we cry while carrying out our tasks, we
should remember that there is only one army, an army that belongs to
all of us. The army is one of the remaining elements bonding society
The years of being forced to fight within a civilian population
created a set of shared values, he said. "To fight but to remain
human beings – it´s not a slogan, but a way of life."
Kaplinsky also mentioned the planned disengagement and the need to
ensure that the army remains outside the political debate. "In a
democratic society everyone is permitted to have his say as long as
it is within the framework of the law," he said, warning that no one
should try to force the army into politics.
Kaplinsky concluded his farewell speech with a quote from David Ben-
Gurion. "I am not and never was an army man. There are many things
that are dear to me, but in the present situation, when the vision is
yet unclear, the IDF is the dearest thing Israel has... Our hopes and
existence depend on it... Despite the differences, we are all of one
heart. The IDF is Israel in its entirety."
Meanwhile at a meeting with Avner Shimoni, head of the Gaza Coast
Regional Council, and other council members at their headquarters in
Neveh Dekalim in Gush Katif, Ya´alon asked them to do everything
within their power to rein in acts of violence directed by settlers
at soldiers. Ya´alon said he expected the settler leaders to harshly
and clearly criticize such behavior. Council spokesman Eran Sternberg
said the settlers demanded that the army be kept outside political
debates and that steps be taken to prevent it from becoming actively
involved in the evacuation of settlements. (© 1995-2005, The
Jerusalem Post 01/31/05)
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