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One Day Ahead of Schedule, IDF Withdraws from Ramallah

December 27, 1995
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The Israeli army withdrew Wednesday from the West Bank town of Ramallah as Palestinians cheered, waved flags and hurled stones at the departing troops.

The pullout was carried out a day ahead of schedule and less than a month before the Palestinian elections, scheduled for Jan. 20

The withdrawal from the town of 30,000 took place in the afternoon, when six Israeli jeeps drove away from the police station in the center of town.

Thousands of Palestinians converged on the site, waving Palestinian flags and chanting, “Soldiers, go away.”

Dozens of boys ran after the jeeps, throwing stones.

The withdrawal from Ramallah completed a two-month process in which Israel – fulfilling the terms of an accord signed September in Washington for extending West Bank autonomy – handed over six towns and more than 400 Arab villages in the area to Palestinian control.

Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat told reporters in the Gaza Strip that he hoped to make Ramallah, located some 7 miles north of Jerusalem, the new center of the Palestinian Authority’s activities.

Jewish settlers living nearby expressed concern about their future safety, despite a bypass road completed earlier this week that was build for their security needs.

Under the Israel-PLO accords, the 144 Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza will remain in place during the five-year interim-phase agreement that ends in May 1999.

The future of the settlements, as well as the highly sensitive issue of Jerusalem, is to be discussed in the final-status negotiations, slated to begin this spring.

An adviser to Arafat said that the rock-throwing during the Ramallah redeployment was not an indication of the kind of regard the Palestinians held for the peace process.

“People felt much pain” during the 28-year period of Israeli rule over the West Bank, Dr. Ahmed Tibi told Israel Radio.

“But you must also remember that during the redeployment from Jenin and Bethlehem, people gave the [Israeli] troops flowers,” he added. “Those are the kinds of scenes I like to remember, from Jenin and Bethlehem.”

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