Report: IDF Set to Leave PA Cities

Israeli troops inspect the scene of a shooting attack at an Israeli checkpoint near the West Bank city of Ramallah January 31, 2016. REUTERS/Ammar Awad TEMPLATE OUT
Israeli troops inspect the scene of a shooting attack at an Israeli checkpoint near Ramallah, Jan. 31. (Reuters/Ammar Awad)

Israel and the Palestinian Authority are close to an agreement whereby the IDF would end its activities in PA cities, for the first time since 2001. Army Radio on Sunday quoted a high level security source as saying that talks on the matter have been ongoing for several months, and that an agreement may be announced this week.

However, there are many in the security establishment who are opposed to the idea, the report said. The fear among many IDF officials is that PA chief Mahmoud Abbas will present the agreement as a mark of significant progress for the PA, making it all the more difficult for the IDF to reenter PA cities if terror springs up again.

Last week, Yoav Mordechai, the IDF coordinator of security activities in Yehudah and Shomron, said that such an agreement would not be a security issue. “Where the Palestinians are more active, we are less active,” he said on a tour of field conditions in the region. However, officials told Army Radio, the Palestinians see the agreement as a major step forward, which could create a major diplomatic headache if things do not work out.

Those favoring the agreement believe it will strengthen the forces loyal to Abbas in many PA cities, which have become dominated by Hamas. They point out the drop in terror attacks in recent weeks, stressing that much of the reason is due to the efforts by the PA, and that it would be in the Authority’s interest to continue ensuring quiet.

Last month Haaretz reported that Israel had proposed to the PA that it cease activities in Yericho and Ramallah, but that the proposal was turned down. The current proposal expands that original one to more PA cities, in the hope that the Authority will accept it, the Army Radio report said.