Israel okays deployment of Palestinian forces in West Bank

March 25th, 2008 - 8:15 pm ICT by admin  

DPA
Tel Aviv, March 25 (DPA) Israel will allow 600 foreign-trained Palestinian police officers to be deployed in the northern West Bank city of Jenin, Defence Minister Ehud Barak said Tuesday. The deployment is part of the revived peace process between Israel and the West Bank-based administration of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

It follows an earlier deployment of up to 500 Palestinian police officers in Nablus, the biggest Palestinian city in the northern West Bank, in November.

The officers to be deployed in Jenin are currently undergoing special training in Jordan and will be charged with maintaining law and order and fighting crime.

Israel, however, was expected to retain security control over the city, meaning it will continue arrest raids against suspected militants planning attacks against it whenever necessary.

The deployment is part of an agreement between Barak and Acting Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, and is meant as a “test” that could pave the way for a possible restoration of Palestinian security control in Nablus, Jenin and other autonomous West Bank cities in the future.

Jenin, Nablus and six other Palestinian cities and their surroundings in the West Bank received full civil and security autonomy following the 1993 Oslo interim peace agreement. But Israel has reclaimed security control, carrying out arrests of suspected militants, since the current Palestinian uprising erupted amid a deadlock in peace negotiations almost eight years ago.

Barak was due to inform Fayyad in a meeting Wednesday of his decision, which also comes ahead of another visit to the region by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice next week.

Barak told reporters at an Israeli army induction base east of Tel Aviv that while Israel’s “top responsibility” was the security of its citizens, it had to take “calculated risks” to give the revived peace talks a chance.

He added Israel would assist the Palestinians with an international economic conference due in the West Bank in May, and was also working with Fayyad on other economic projects, including the establishment of a German-funded industrial park near Jenin, and another near the southern West Bank city of Hebron.
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