JERUSALEM (AP) -- The head of Palestinian security pledged Monday to enforce calm in Palestinian areas from which Israeli troops are to withdraw under a new agreement that brings the first sign of progress in months. But Islamic militant groups said they would continue anti-Israeli attacks.
Under the deal, reached by Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and Palestinian Interior Minister Abdel Razak Yehiyeh, Israel was to pull its troops out of the West Bank town of Bethlehem and parts of Gaza, to be replaced by Palestinian security.
The agreement, announced Sunday night after a Tel Aviv meeting, was the first directly negotiated by Palestinians and Israelis -- without U.S. or other referees -- since the September 2000 start of the Palestinian uprising known as the intefadeh.
Yehiyeh told The Associated Press on Monday that the Bethlehem withdrawal would start "in the coming few hours" and be completed in one operation, while the Gaza withdrawal would happen in stages. In the past, Israeli troops have waited until nightfall before moving, and they were expected to follow that practice in this case.
"From our side, we will take all the necessary procedures to achieve internal security and public security in those areas," Yehiyeh said.
Yehiyeh said local commanders would meet over the next two days to agree on how to implement the agreement and that within a week another high-level Palestinian-Israeli meeting would be held to follow up and to agree on further Israeli withdrawals.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Sofer, though, said no timetable had been set.
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