IDF may give PA forces more control

Army waiting to find out who will be next US security coordinator.

By
June 10, 2010 03:16
2 minute read.
keith dayton points 298.88

keith dayton 224.88. (photo credit: US Department of Defense)

The IDF has drawn up a list of potential confidence-building measures that Israel could make to the Palestinian Authority amid growing expectations in Jerusalem that Israel will face increasing pressure to make concessions, following PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s Wednesday meeting with US President Barack Obama.

Abbas and Obama met at the White House for talks that Israeli defense officials said would likely end with the president issuing a number of guarantees to the PA that would include future Israeli concessions.

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One of the options under consideration by the IDF and drawn up by the office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) is to expand the “Jenin Model” – a US-Israeli initiative started in 2008, aimed at gradually transferring security control to the PA – to other parts of the West Bank.

While Israel has significantly scaled back its operations in Jenin and regularly coordinates with PA security forces there, it still retains the right to operate in the city if the security situation requires it.

Therefore, one of the options under consideration is for the IDF to completely stop operating in Jenin and transfer the city over to absolute PA control. Another option is to expand the Jenin Model to include other Palestinian cities in the Samaria region, such as Nablus and Tulkarm.

A third option would be to start a new Jenin Model-like program in Tulkarm and Kalkilya that is unconnected to the program under way in Jenin.

“There are many options under consideration,” a senior defense official said on Wednesday.

Under the Jenin plan, the IDF cut back its presence in the city, lifted roadblocks, permitted the deployment of US-trained Palestinian forces and opened the city to Israeli Arabs to improve the local economy. In addition, construction is currently being done on a major industrial zone in conjunction with the Gilboa Regional Council.

“The idea would be to implement these measures in the new area chosen as well,” the official said.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu visited Central Command headquarters in Jerusalem and was briefed on some of the IDF’s proposals. They have yet to be brought to the government for approval, and if approved, they will likely be implemented gradually and based on the progress of peace talks with the PA.

The IDF is also anxiously waiting to hear who will replace Gen. Keith Dayton as the next US security coordinator to Israel and the PA. Dayton announced his resignation in late May after four years in the post. His successor has yet to be announced, but will also be a three-star general.

Dayton is retiring after 40 years of military service, since he has reached the mandatory retirement age. He is credited with many of the changes in the West Bank in recent years. Under his guidance, the PA sent a number of battalions of about 500 soldiers each for training at the Jordan International Police Training Center in Amman.

Five US-trained battalions have already deployed throughout the West Bank in cities including Jericho, Nablus, Jenin and Hebron, alongside seven existing regional battalions. By 2011, another five battalions will have completed the training.

Once that happens, the Palestinians have told Israel that they will dismantle the regional battalions and expand the Dayton-trained battalions to close to 1,000 soldiers each, bringing the total number of soldiers in the West Bank to around 10,000.


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