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Redeployment from Hebron Delayed Until After Passover

The redeployment of Israeli forces from most of Hebron will not carried out until at least after the Passover holiday.

When the pullback ultimately will occur depends on effort by the Palestinian Authority of fight Islamic militants, Foreign Minister Ehud Bank said Thursday.

“We expect to see broader and more practical results in the fight against terror, and when the security establishment feels that things are really happening,” he said, “then the redeployment will be carried out in Hebron.”

Maj. Gen. IIan Biran, the outgoing head of central command, said Thursday that the redeployment plan is ready and could be implemented almost immediately after the order is given.

The redeployment was scheduled to have taken place Thursday, according to the Interim Agreement between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Under the agreement, Hebron was to have been the seventh and final major West Bank Palestinian population center to be transferred to the self-rule government.

Unlike the six other cities, from which Israeli troops withdrew completely, troops would leave most of Hebron, but some would remain to protect the 450 Jewish settlers living in six enclaves in the downtown area.

Israel suspended preparation for the redeployment after the recent suicide attacks that left 58 innocent people dead.

Israeli officials also have been quoted as saying that the redeployment would take place only after the Palestine National Council revokes the anti-Israel clauses in the palestinian covenant.

The PNC is expected to meet no later than May 7. Under the self-rule accord, the PNC must convene within two months after the inauguration of the Palestinian legislative council, which was elected in January and held its first session March 7.

Meanwhile, north of Ramallah on Thursday, hundreds of Palestinians hurled stones at Palestinian police and Israeli troops to protect an overnight sweep by Israeli forces, in which more than 370 Palestinians were arrested.

Palestinian police and Israeli troops stood side by side in an effort to control the crowds. The troops did not use force to disperse the crowd.

Deputy Defense Minister Ori Orr said the raid had targeted people suspected of involvement in financing or otherwise helping those linked to the recent bombing attacks in Israel.

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