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Israel to transfer W. Bank cities (JERUSALEM POST) By MARGOT DUDKEVITCH 01/31/05)Source: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1107055730263 JERUSALEM POST JERUSALEM POST Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
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 Wednesday.

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 together."

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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