Israel has delayed a planned handover of the third West Bank town to Palestinians because of Palestinian "security failures", Israeli Public Radio reported Sunday.
Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz ordered the military to delay the handover of Qalqiliya, accusing the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) of failing to confiscate weapons from militants in two other West Bank towns transferred earlier, said the radio.
Local newspaper Ha'aretz also reported on its online edition that Mofaz Sunday told the cabinet that he has instructed the Israel Defense Forces to delay to hand over control of Qalqilyah, as the Palestinians have not honored their pledge to disarm militants in Jericho and TulKarem.
The PNA has failed to seize guns from 52 militants wanted for suspected involvement in attacks on Israeli targets, Mofaz was quoted as saying.
But Palestinian officials rejected the accusation, retorting that the two sides have only agreed that militants in the transferred towns shall register their weapons and not carry them around.
Qalqiliya, lying on the northwestern border with Israel, is originally due to be handed over to the Palestinians this week.
Earlier this month, Israel gave two West Bank towns of Jericho and Tulkarem back to the Palestinians as the two sides reached an agreement over the handover of five West Bank towns at a Feb. 8 summit.
The transfer of the security control of the towns which Israel re-occupied since violence erupted in 2000 is seen as a crucial step to regenerate the stalled Mideast peace process.