Israel asks PA to remove forces from Hebron
Israel has asked the Palestinian Authority (PA) to remove 550 members of its security forces from the southern West Bank city of Hebron deployed there since only two months ago, Palestinian acting foreign minister and government spokesman Riad Malki said Monday, reported dpa.
He told a news conference in Ramallah after a regular cabinet meeting that Israeli military commanders recently informed their Palestinian counterparts in Hebron that the PA should suspend its security plan in the city and remove its.
"The Palestinian government has expressed deep concern over this Israeli decision," said Malki. "We are following this matter at the highest levels to make sure that the security plan for Hebron continues uninterrupted."
Malki said he believed the reason for the Israeli decision was a flare-up in tensions between Jewish settlers and Palestinians in Hebron.
Hundreds of radical Jews have flocked to Hebron over the past weeks to "protect" a disputed house occupied by Jewish settlers which the Israeli government plans to evacuate on the orders of Israel's supreme court.
The settlers have run amok in the divided city, attacking local Palestinian civilians and Israeli soldiers.
Malki said the Palestinian forces would remain in Hebron and continue their work in defiance of the Israeli decision.
The Palestinian minister added Acting Prime Minister Salam Fayyad had met Monday with European diplomats and asked the EU not to upgrade its relations with Israel until the latter stop violating Palestinian rights in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.