JERUSALEM (Apr. 28)
Israel will reportedly redeploy its troops May 5 in the West Bank town of Hebron.
Reports in the Israeli media of the imminent redeployment came in the wake of last week’s vote by the Palestine National Council to amend the anti-Israel portions of its charter.
Military sources have said that the redeployment in Hebron, which involves moving troops out of Arab neighborhoods in most of the town but leaving them in place to protect Jewish settlers, could be carried out in a matter of hours.
The Hebron redeployment was to take place in late March, but Israel delayed the move after a series of Hamas suicide bombings in late February and early March.
Prime Minister Shimon Peres said this week that Israel was committed to fulfilling its obligations with the Palestinians.
Peres’ comments came in response to a letter to him from the spiritual leader of the Shas Party, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, to put off the redeployment out of concern for a possible outbreak of Palestinian violence against Jewish settlers in the town.
Peres told reporters accompanying him to Washington on Sunday that it was “theoretically” possible that the redeployment from Hebron would take place in stages.
But he would not commit to a date.
Meanwhile, Israel agreed to cancel demolition orders on 60 illegally built Palestinian houses in Hebron.
Mayor Mustafa Natshe said he appealed to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to intervene with Peres to stop the planned demolitions and that Peres agreed.
Natshe added that Israeli officials had not yet informed him of a date for the redeployment, but he voiced the opinion that it would take place in early May.