Israeli officers toured the West Bank city of Bethlehem Thursday in preparations for the delivery of security control in the holy city to the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), sources said.
Avi Mizrahi, a general in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), entered the city followed by white pick-up trucks carrying the Palestinian officers and policemen, the sources added.
The preparations to shift the security control in the city to the PNA are being implemented under a plan by General Keith W. Dayton, the U.S. security coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian territories.
Earlier this year, Israel transferred security responsibilities in Nablus and Jenin to the PNA which deployed 1,500 cadets in the northern West Bank cities. The 1,500 cadets have completed their training at a Jordanian police academy under U.S. supervision.
President Barack Obama's administration has been urging Israel to deliver the security in the West Bank to the PNA, dominated by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement.
Bethlehem's redeployment plan is being examined by the two sides, said Adnan al-Dumairi, spokesman for the Palestinian forces.
"It was a scout tour that did not come up with anything new," al-Dumairi told Xinhua, adding "it is still too early to talk about handing out the security control to the Palestinian services."
He accused Israel of "delaying and setting obstacles" to prevent the PNA from taking over its security responsibilities in the West Bank.
The spokesman also accused Israel of not carrying out any of its obligations in the U.S.-backed Roadmap peace plan which in its first phase calls on the two sides to take a series of steps to provide common grounds for future peace negotiations.
The second phase of the Roadmap, which was due in 2005, calls for establishing the Palestinian statehood with provisional borders that would be finalized in the third phase.