Palestinian officials said Monday they were close to reaching an agreement with the US according to which the Obama administration would demand an Israeli withdrawal from positions that were manned by Palestinian forces prior to the outbreak of the second intifada at the end of September 2000.
IDF forces currently controls positions situated at the entrance to large Palestinian cities in the West Bank. The Palestinian Authority is demanding that these positions be moved and that Israeli forces be prevented from entering the cities.
Speaking to Ynet ahead of George Mitchell's scheduled visit to the region, Palestinian officials said they would brief President Barack Obama's Mideast envoy on the PA's continued efforts to maintain security in areas under its control.
According to the officials, part of the Authority's success has to do with the dismantling of various armed groups, particularly those affiliated with Fatah. The PA is working diligently to abide by the security-related clauses of the US-backed Road Map for peace initiative, they said.
"Now it's time for Israel to reciprocate and fulfill its part of the Road Map initiative, meaning the transfer of control to the Palestinian security forces in such a way that by the end of the process PA security forces will return to all the outposts they had controlled on the eve of the second intifada," one official said.
The Palestinians are also demanding that the IDF be prevented from operating in areas under full control of the PA.
"We've shown that we are acting in accordance with our supreme interest, which is to maintain calm and security so the Israelis will not have an excuse (not to implement the Road Map initiative)," said a PA official.
"Therefore, we will tell Mitchell that we've held up our end of the bargain, and now we expect that a clear timetable be set for the return of Palestinian forces to their pre-intifada positions."