Hebron redeployment remains up to Netanyahu

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JERUSALEM — When and how Israeli forces in Hebron will be redeployed will not be decided until Prime Minister-elect Benjamin Netanyahu takes office.

The outgoing government of Prime Minister Shimon Peres said Sunday that it would not act on carrying out the redeployment, which was expected to take place by mid-June.

In a statement issued after its weekly meeting, the Cabinet reiterated its commitment to the peace accords with the Palestinians, including the planned redeployment in Hebron, but said that it would let the government being formed by Netanyahu decide how to proceed.

"The matter will be for the incoming government to deal with, based upon Israel's international commitment to the Interim Agreement, and to the status of the understanding reached with the Palestinian Authority," the statement said.

Hebron is the last of seven West Bank population centers to be handed over to Palestinian self-rule under the terms of the agreement signed last September in Washington, D.C.

Israel postponed the redeployment, originally scheduled to take place in March, after a series of Hamas suicide bombings in February and March.

The Peres government reached an understanding with the Palestinian Authority to carry out the redeployment from 85 percent of Hebron after Israel's elections. Israeli troops would remain in the districts where some 400 Jewish settlers live.

In preparation for the expected movement of Israeli troops, international observers began to arrive in the town in mid-May.

But over the weekend, Likud Knesset member Uzi Landau said that it was likely that the new government would delay the redeployment in Hebron.

However, Netanyahu was quoted as saying that only he would decide what would be done there.

Israeli security sources were quoted as warning that any delay in the redeployment could lead to an increase in terror attacks.