Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat described Israel's announced withdrawal from Palestinian cities it has reoccupied as a "lie" and public relations stunt.
"This is lie for television. It doesn't mean anything," he said, after Israel announced that its forces had left Nablus and most of Ramallah, except for the area surrounding Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's compound.
Palestinian officials said that Israel tanks had left all self-rule areas of Nablus but were still close by in villages to the east, in an area under Israeli security control. Erakat told AFP that Israel had effectively wiped out Palestinian autonomous areas set up in the 1993 Oslo accords and reduced them to areas where the Palestinians have administrative control but the Israelis run security matters.
"Israel has given itself security responsibility for the whole of the West Bank after they destroyed the Palestinian security infrastructure," he said.
For its part, Israel said its army completed its withdrawal from Nablus on Sunday afternoon, having held up the pullback because of dozens of extreme right-wing and ultra-Orthodox who refused to leave the compound surrounding Joseph's Tomb.
The Jewish extremists, who entered the complex overnight, have been involved in confrontations with Palestinians as well as Israeli soldiers.
Israeli police and army sources said that they arrested several extremists. Overnight Sunday, some 60 right-wing and ultra-Orthodox entered Joseph's Tomb. Four of them entered the Balata refugee camp.
Settlers have attempted to enter Joseph's Tomb every night since the Israeli army reoccupied Nablus two weeks ago. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )