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Saturday, 24 August, 2002, 13:27 GMT 14:27 UK
Mid-East security deal put on hold
Israeli troops in Ramallah
Israel is still in control of six main Palestinian areas
A deal paving the way for an Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian population centres in the West Bank and Gaza Strip has stalled.

Israel has said it will not carry out any further redeployments until the Palestinian security forces take more effective action against Palestinian militants.


The Palestinians didn't do their part. It's all one package.

Israeli official
Palestinian officials accused Israel of reneging on the agreement, saying Israel had no intention of pulling its forces back.

The setback comes after talks on Friday night between Israeli and Palestinian security commanders on withdrawing Israeli troops from the Palestinian sector of Hebron ended without agreement.

Under the Gaza-Bethlehem First plan, negotiated last weekend, it was agreed that Israel would pull its troops out of Palestinian areas in phases, as Palestinian police took over on the streets.

But Israel said continuing violence, including an attempted attack on a Jewish settlement in Gaza, had jeopardised the scheme.

Gaza violence

"The Israeli army will not move so long as the Palestinians are failing to impose calm on the ground by starting to fight the terrorist groups," an Israeli security official told French news agency AFP.

Israeli official checks body of Palestinian militant in Gaza
Israel says attacks by Palestinians threaten the deal

The official said that no timetable for Israeli withdrawals had been agreed as part of the deal.

Another Israeli source told Reuters news agency that the raid in Gaza had derailed the plan.

"The Palestinians didn't do their part. It's all one package and the next step depends on Gaza," the official said.

Israeli troops say they thwarted an attempted raid on Friday by two Palestinian militants on the Jewish settlement of Kfar Darom in Gaza.

Officials said the gunmen were from al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades - a faction linked to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat - and were shot dead after opening fire on an Israeli army post.

Israel accused

But Palestinian officials accused Israel of scuppering the deal.


Israel has frozen the agreement

Nabil Abu Rudeina, Arafat aide
"The Israeli side refused to respect the engagements it had undertaken... and that should have resulted in a withdrawal from Hebron," said Nabil Abu Rudeina, an aide to Mr Arafat.

"Israel has frozen the agreement," he said.

Israel was expected to pull its troops out of Hebron days after its forces left the West Bank town of Bethlehem.

Israeli forces took control of seven out of eight major Palestinian towns and cities in June after a spate of suicide attacks.

The deal also called for the easing of Israeli restrictions on Palestinians in Gaza, but such measures have not yet been implemented.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Jeremy Cooke in Jerusalem
"The security deal... may be on the verge of collapse"

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21 Aug 02 | Middle East
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