Hebron Settlers Protest IDF Redeployment Plans

Jewish residents of the West Bank town of Hebron held a prayer gathering this week to protest what they felt was their imminent abandonment by the Israel Defense Force.

Thursday’s gathering at the Tomb of the Patriarchs, which drew about 200 settlers, came as Israeli and Palestinian negotiators continued their second week of talks aimed at implementing the long-delayed redeployment.

As has happened throughout the week, optimistic comments from Israeli officials that the talks were making meaningful progress were countered by equally pessimistic appraisals from their Palestinian counterparts.

And while the negotiators grappled with proposals that included the creation of a buffer zone between Hebron’s Jewish and Arab residents, a group of yeshiva students from the nearby settlement of Kiryat Arba tried to initiate their own demarcation lines with barbed wire.

Israeli police Thursday took down a barbed-wire fence the yeshiva students put up around a hilltop near Hebron.

Kiryat Arba council head Zvi Katzover said the lands were owned by the municipality. Palestinians from the area said they had land deeds to prove their ownership.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Thursday with members of the Yesha Council, which represents Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, to explain the government’s position on the Hebron redeployment.

The meeting was cut short, however, when Netanyahu rushed off to the hospital to see his son, Yair, who cut his lip after taking a fall in kindergarten.

The meeting was rescheduled.

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