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Just as the official mourning period for slain Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin ended, his apparent successor moved quickly to keep the peace process on track. Early this morning, Israeli troops lowered the Israeli flag over their military headquarters, got into 14 military vehicles and drove out of the West Bank town of Jenin. As they left, Palestinian police, followed by a jubilant crowd of Arabs, entered the building and raised the Palestinian flag. Jenin becomes the first town to gain autonomy under the agreement signed by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Rabin last September. In fact, Acting Prime Minister Shimon Peres, who was formally approved as leader of the ruling Labor Party on Sunday, had moved up the transfer by a week to show his committment to peace with the Palestinians. "They really did it in the wee hours of the morning, when it was still dark, to minimize the potential uproar," reports TIME's Johanna McGeary. "At the same time, this was done six days ahead of schedule. So it signifies the seriousness of the Israeli commitment to not only go forward but to move full speed ahead on the peace process." Jenin is the first of six cities expected to gain autonomy, says McGeary. "This is a very positive sign."