Israel has agreed to largely keep its forces out of four West Bank cities to try to boost a Palestinian security campaign supported by Washington, Israeli and Palestinian security sources told Ynet on Thursday.
The sources said Israel agreed to refrain from entering Bethlehem, Ramallah, Jericho and Qalqilya, except in cases where the army believes terrorists are poised to attack Israelis.
The agreement was reached following a meeting between Israeli officials from the Civil Adminsitration and top Palestinian security officials held in Bethlehem Wednesday evening.
According to the agreement, Palestinian forces will be allowed to operate in the aforementioned cities 24 hours a day; up until now they were authorized to operate from midnight to 5 am.
It was further decided that Israel would inform the Palestinian Authority of any security-related developments that may demand IDF intervention in territories controlled by the Authority.
The Palestinians hope that the increased cooperation will eventually result in the easing of restrictions on the Palestinian population.
'Palestinian entity in temporary borders needed'
The agreement was made possible after Israel expressed its satisfaction with the PA's security-related efforts in the West Bank and it continued activity to curb the activity of terrorist groups in the area, particularly Islamic Jihad.
Palestinian security forces are continuing to train in Jericho and Jordan under the supervision of American General Keith Dayton.
Palestinian leaders have long demanded that Israel pull its forces back from population centers in the West Bank to positions they held before the outbreak of a Palestinian uprising in 2000.
Meanwhile, Former Minister Knesset Member Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) said, "In the existing political reality action must be taken to set up a Palestinian entity within temporary borders for a duration of some two years, during which negotiations regarding a permanent agreement and permanent borders can be held."
The MK continued to say: "I will demand Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu implement this plan, and if he agrees – I will work to gather the Kadima establishment in order to join the government." Mofaz stressed that he has no intention of dividing Kadima, but of uniting it.
Reuters, Attila Somfalvi contributed to the report