A Palestinian security source has told Reuters that the two, arrested "in the last few days", had been planning to carry out bomb attacks against Israel.

The men's names have not been revealed. The source said one of the men was a member of Islamic Jihad while the other belonged to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an armed faction linked to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement.

The Israeli authorities handed over security control in Bethlehem to the Palestinians in July.