(by Julie Stahl, CNSNews.com) Jerusalem – The U.S. reportedly wants to deploy five new battalions of Palestinian security personnel in the West Bank, press reports said on Thursday. It is not clear how big the battalions would be, but they usually consist of 500-1,000 men.
The plan, unveiled by Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton, the U.S. security coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian territories, is part of continuing Western attempts to bolster Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Dayton has been working on such a plan for months.
The plan, still being developed, would use “relatively small units” that would undergo the “necessary training,” press reports said.
Israeli approval is required if weapons and equipment are to be transferred to the Palestinian forces, the Israeli daily Ha’aretz quoted political sources in Jerusalem as saying on Thursday.
Congress reportedly has approved the transfer of $80 million to Dayton’s security delegation, the paper said. (Following the violent Hamas takeover in the Gaza Strip, President Bush announced that the U.S. would provide $80 million to bolster Palestinian security services and improve Palestinian lives.)
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev would only say that Israel “supports the strengthening of the Palestinian government and the Palestinian security services so they can fight against the terrorists.”
The State Department announced last week that its Bureau of Diplomatic Security would send teams to starting training officers of Abbas’ Presidential Guard in VIP protection.
The training program is part of the international effort to “strengthen and transform” the Palestinian security services and improve law and order in the P.A., the State Department said. (See earlier story)
Critics have warned that in the past, schemes to bolster Palestinian forces have worked — and eventually have been used against Israel.
Press reports on Thursday said Abbas is looking for ways to end the dispute between his Fatah faction and Hamas.
Fatah, which earlier participated in a “unity” government with Hamas, broke off ties with the group in June following Hamas’ violent takeover of the Gaza Strip.
Since then, Israel, the U.S and other Quartet members — European Union, Russia and United Nations — have backed Abbas. The U.S. and Israel have been pushing for closer ties with Abbas in an attempt to strengthen him and restart peace negotiations.
Abbas met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert earlier this week and reportedly discussed an agreement that would spell out the commitments the two sides are willing to make in a final agreement.
But a report carried by both the Jerusalem Post and the Sudanese News Agency SUNA said that a delegation led by an Abbas associate met in Khartoum on Tuesday with Sudanese government officials to discuss ways of ending the Fatah-Hamas dispute.
Israel is not in favor of Fatah-Hamas reconciliation.
According to Regev, “the progress that has been achieved (in Israeli-Palestinian relations) in the last two months and the progress we’re hopeful to achieve is all possible because Hamas has been marginalized and removed from the political picture.”
He said putting Hamas back in the picture would stop the “momentum.”
Terrorism from the Gaza Strip, now firmly controlled by Hamas, shows no signs of abating.
A Kassam rocket fired from Gaza hit a home in the Israeli city of Sderot on Thursday – the second time this week that a home in the city was struck.
Three Palestinian children, cousins ages 10-12, were killed on Wednesday when the Israeli army targeted several rocket launchers in the northern Gaza Strip. The army expressed its regret but accused terror organizations of using children and teenagers in terror attacks.
Nearly 300 Kassam rockets and mortar shells have been launched at Israel from the Gaza Strip during the last month, the army said.
Earlier this week, Israeli troops arrested a 15-year-old Palestinian carrying two explosive devices in the northern Gaza Strip, the army said on Thursday. The youth apparently intended to detonate the devices in a suicide bombing attack against the forces, the army said.
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–“Answers by Email” will resume on September 4, 2007. (No need to re-subscribe if you’re already signed up…you will stay on our list for September.)
1. a) Who is Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton?
b) Describe Gen. Dayton’s plan to bolster Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
2. What aspect of the plan requires Israeli approval?
3. What will teams sent by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security be doing in the Palestinian territory?
4. What problem do critics have with the plan?
5. Read the blurb above about Fatah and Hamas. Why did Fatah break off ties with Hamas recently?
6. a) What is the Quartet mentioned in paragraph 12 of this article?
b) Why are the Quartet members backing Fatah?
- Read about the Quartet and the Roadmap (to peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority) at the State Department website at usinfo.state.gov
- Read about the Road Map to Peace at the Council on Foreign Relations website at cfr.org/publication/7738/
7. Why isn’t Israel in favor of a Fatah-Hamas reconciliation?
THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY’S RULING POLITICAL PARTIES:
The Palestinian Authority is currently ruled by two parties, Fatah and Hamas. Hamas holds the majority of seats in the Palestinian Parliament and the office of Prime Minister. Fatah holds a minority of seats in the Parliament, and the office of President.
Fatah ruled the Palestinian Authority from its establishment in 1994 until 2006. [Yasser Arafat was the head of Fatah until his death in 2004.] Fatah is a major secular Palestinian political party…. In Palestinian politics it is on the center-left of the spectrum. ….. [Since its loss in 2006 as the ruling party] it has … been described oftentimes in the media as the more “moderate” party, although many dispute this due to its past actions and current policies. (from Wikipedia.org)
Hamas is a Palestinian Sunni Islamist terrorist organization that currently (since January 2006) forms the majority party of the Palestinian Authority…. Hamas is known outside the Palestinian territories for its suicide bombings and other attacks directed against Israeli civilians, as well as military and security forces targets. Hamas’ charter…calls for the destruction of the State of Israel and its replacement with a Palestinian Islamic state in the area that is now Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. ………….. In January 2006, Hamas won a surprise victory in the Palestinian parliamentary elections…. Many [Palestinians] perceived the preceding Fatah government as corrupt and ineffective… Since Hamas has taken control, the Palestinian territories have experienced a period of sharp internal conflicts, known as Fauda (anarchy), in which many Palestinians have been killed in internecine fighting. (from Wikipedia.org)
NOTE: Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia. Anyone can submit information on any topic. Some of the material on Wikipedia has been known to be inaccurate or biased. It is our judgement that the excerpts from wikipedia.org posted above on Fatah and Hamas are accurate.
Click here for a map of Israel (including the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.)
For information on Hamas, visit the Council on Foreign Relations website at cfr.org/publication/8968/hamas.html
For detailed information on Fatah, go to the Terrorism Knowledge Base at tkb.org/Group.jsp?groupID=128
For photos of the fighting between Palestinian groups Fatah and Hamas, go to msnbc.com
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