Jubilant celebrations erupted in parts of the West Bank on Friday as
Palestinians celebrated further self rule in the occupied territories.
Israel handed over a section of the northern West Bank to the
Palestinian Authority in the first phase of implementation of the Wye
interim peace accord.
Under the accord, agreed in the U-S last month, Israel is to hand 13
percent of the West Bank back to the Palestinians in return for a
Israeli soldiers were out early on Friday, securing posts that will mark the new borders between Israeli and Palestinian-controlled areas.
The official handover had been briefly delayed, as the Palestinians questioned last minute changes in the redeployment map.
The Israeli troop commander in the West Bank was called in to meet with Chairman Yasser Arafat.
He emerged from the meeting saying the problem was solved - paving the way for implementation of the first phase of the Wye Accord.
UPSOUND CAR HORNS
In villages throughout the West Bank Palestinians celebrated the first step towards greater Palestinian control
As part of the agreement, 250 Palestinian prisoners were immediately released.
They were given a rapturous home-coming.
But the prisoner release scheme has also attracted criticism.
Some in the Palestinian Authority have complained that many of those set free are not political prisoners - as agreed by Israel - but petty criminals.
In addition to the prisoner handover and troop withdrawals, the Palestinians can now open their own airport. The first flight is scheduled for Tuesday.
"I consider that is very important for the Palestinians as human beings to have this right to depart from their own airport very easily very quickly and to be connected to other airports in the area, as in the world."
SUPER CAPTION: Fayez Zaidan, head of Palestinian civil aviation authority
But in the Jewish settlement of Ganim in the heart of the area handed over, the streets were deserted and news of the pullout was greeted with alarm.
"I cannot trust the Palestinian police to keep my security. I can only trust my army and I can only trust my police."
SUPER CAPTION: Jewish Settler
While the settlers are deeply unhappy with the handover of land - their Palestinian neighbours living in the West Bank, hungry for self-rule, feel they have waited long enough.