IDF draws plans to transfer security control to PA

Decision to hand over security control of some W. Bank areas to PA requires approval of government and IDF, likely depends on peace talks.

PA Security Forces 311 (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
PA Security Forces 311
(photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Under orders from the Defense Ministry, the IDF has drawn up contingency plans for the transfer of security control over certain West Bank areas to the Palestinian Authority.
Such a move would require the approval of the government and the IDF Central Command, defense officials said.
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PA President Mahmoud Abbas has demanded that Israel transfer security over major West Bank cities and completely halt IDF incursions into them, which have anyhow dramatically dropped in numbers in recent years due to the lull in terrorism.
Such withdrawals were also one of the demands that US President Barack Obama made to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu during their meeting at the White House in July.
One area under consideration is the Ramallah region, which would include Beitunya, el-Bireh and possibly even Bir Zeit, parts of which falls under Area B, which according to the Oslo Accords, is meant to be under Israeli security control until a final agreement.
The IDF rarely operates in Ramallah nowadays and senior officers said that PA security forces were doing an effective job to prevent terrorism.
Bir Zeit is problematic, on the other hand, due to concerns that a transfer of security responsibility to the PA could reinforce the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine’s budding infrastructure in the university town.
“Hamas used to be very strong in Ramallah but already for several years it is not in the city,” a senior defense official said. “Hamas mostly operates today, if at all, in the village areas, not in the cities.”
Not all IDF officers support a security transfer.
Some say that even though the PA security forces are currently doing an effective job in cracking down on terrorist infrastructure in the West Bank, the IDF’s operational freedom still plays a key role.
“Even though the IDF does not go into the cities every day, its presence helps keep terrorism down to a minimum,” another official said.
The decision will be up to the government and will likely depend on the progress made in the peace talks with the Palestinians, currently deadlocked due to the PA’s refusal to negotiate unless Israel renews the freeze on settlement construction.