Israeli parliament debates Hebron deal
January 16, 1997
Web posted at: 9:45 a.m. EST (1445 GMT)
JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israel's parliament -- the Knesset --
began debate Thursday over whether to approve a landmark
agreement for troop withdrawal from the volatile West Bank
town of Hebron. Meanwhile, Israeli troops in Hebron lowered
the Star of David flag and loaded dozens of trucks with boxes
and equipment in anticipation of an end to their 30-year rule
over the city.
The parliamentary debate started around 11 a.m. local time
and was expected to last well into the night, with each of
the 120 legislators being allowed to speak. The agreement
was expected to pass easily with the support of leftist
Hebron: why it's important
The vote comes before parliament less than 24 hours after the
and Palestinian Cabinets each approved the U.S.-brokered
Hebron deal reached earlier in the week.
The Israeli Cabinet voted 11-7 in favor of the deal, after
hard-line members spent the most of Wednesday denouncing
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for agreeing to it.
They accused him of betraying the conservative cause by
agreeing to troop withdrawals from much of Hebron and West
Bank rural areas.
Minister Benny Begin, son of Israel's late Prime Minister
Menachem Begin, resigned in protest after the vote.
"The prime minister committed himself to give
away sections of the Jewish homeland. He gets zero from
Arafat," Begin said.
The Palestinian Cabinet vote came earlier Wednesday evening.
Members passed the historic accord by a large majority, said
Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo, but he
declined to provide the vote count.
The Palestine Liberation Organization's executive committee
also gave the deal its blessing.
Troops pack up
The peace agreement calls for the redeployment of Israeli
troops in the West Bank in three phases, ending no later than
late 1998. That includes Israeli troop withdrawals from 80
percent of Hebron, a move originally scheduled for last
March. Hebron is the last West Bank city under Israeli
The troop withdrawal from Hebron was expected to start as
as the Knesset gives its approval. Security
sources said redeployment would take less than 48 hours.
By early Thursday, Israeli troops were already packing. Army
bulldozers dismantled cement barriers at the gate of Israel's
main military headquarters on a hill above the city.
Israeli security sources said police and soldiers had been
deployed in Hebron to prevent unrest ahead of the pullback.
Israeli troops set up new roadblocks around Hebron, checking
motorists. Israelis were barred from entering
the Arab neighborhoods of the overwhelmingly Palestinian
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