CBNNew.com - BETHLEHEM, Israel - Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak met with security officials over the weekend to confirm the deployment of Palestinian Authority security forces in Bethlehem, beginning on Christmas Day.
Citing the success of PA troops in Jenin, Nablus and Hebron, Barak described the upcoming deployment as another "goodwill gesture" to bolster PA President Mahmoud Abbas and his government among their own constituency.
Barak has been working directly with PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on extending the deployment of PA security forces to cities under Palestinian Authority control in Judea and Samaria.
"If the Palestinian forces are proven successful in Bethelehem as well, Israel will consider expanding their authority to additional cities," one defense official said.
PA officials, encouraged by the nearly one million tourists who came to Bethlehem in 2008, are hoping to see a record number of visitors this Christmas.
Israel will still maintain overall security control of Bethlehem.