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Israel Maintains Grip on Palestinian Ruled Areas in West Bank - 2001-10-30

The Israeli military is maintaining a hold on Palestinian-ruled areas in the West Bank, despite calls from the United States for a complete withdrawal.

Israeli tanks and troops continue to hold positions in Palestinian-controlled areas in the northern West Bank, despite international pressure on the Jewish state to pull back its forces. Israeli officials are demanding that the Palestinian Authority arrest militants and stop terrorist attacks.

Israeli government spokesman Dore Gold said the military is prepared to leave Palestinian areas where a cease-fire is maintained. "Israel will withdraw, as long as there is a Palestinian partner on the other side, who can accept security responsibility," he said. "But, where there is a risk to the lives of Israelis, Israel will remain in those areas, until there is quiet."

Palestinians say the withdrawals should be carried out immediately, without conditions. Palestinian Minister Ziyad Abu Ziyad has said Israel's policy of raids and reoccupation of Palestinian territory must stop. "It is becoming a game, occupation and reoccupation, then withdrawal and reoccupation. This is a policy which has proved its bankruptcy," he said.

Israel launched raids into six West Bank towns, after Palestinian militants killed Israeli Cabinet Minister Rehavam Zeevi two weeks ago.

A State Department spokesman welcomed the Israel military departure from Bethlehem and the adjacent Palestinian town of Beit Jala, but says further pullbacks should take place immediately. The United States has also called for Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to capture militants and keep them in custody.

Meanwhile, a meeting between Israeli and Palestinian security officials to discuss additional withdrawals ended without significant progress.