900 Palestinian troops to deploy in Bethlehem


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Some 900 Palestinian security forces will deploy in Bethlehem for Christmas celebrations.

The Palestinians are asking Israel to let them remain after the holiday, The Associated Press reported Monday. Israel and the Palestinians are in continuing negotiations over allowing the extra troops to remain in the city of 30,000 about six miles south of Jerusalem.

Extra Palestinian troops already have been deployed in Nablus, Jenin and Hebron in the West Bank. Their presence is designed to help Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas retain his hold on the West Bank and show Israel that his security forces can maintain order in the area.

Bethlehem, the place where Jesus is said to have been born, is expecting an influx of tourists for the Christmas holiday season.

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