Israel No Longer Controls West Bank, IDF General Tells Knesset Members

The Israel Defense Force no longer enjoys total control of the West Bank, the IDF’s deputy chief of staff told skeptical Knesset members Tuesday.

The briefing by Lt. Gen. Amnon Shahak to the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee was the first official confirmation that Israel’s command over the administered territories has limitations and that nothing much can be done about it.

It was also an acknowledgment that the intifada, the uprising in the territories that began in December 1987, has had some success.

The intifada has stabilized. The violence of its early stages has been replaced by a pattern of “very strained relations” between the Arab and Jewish populations of the West Bank, Shahak said.

But one of the consequences of the new situation is that the IDF no longer exercises effective authority over the entire area.

The Palestine Liberation Organization runs things in some places most of the time, he said.

Shahak told of flying over Arab villages in the West Bank and seeing PLO flags waving unhindered from mosques. He said he also spotted gatherings of Palestinians in defiance of the general ban on public and political activities in the territories.

His frank comments were in response to complaints by Elyakim Haetzni of the Tehiya party, who insisted that the IDF could have prevented the situation had it acted more decisively and applied greater force against the intifada.

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