IDF soldier stands guard at Joseph's Tomb 390.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Palestinian Authority has rejected an Israeli request to not arm its
policemen stationed at Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus with AK-47 Kalashnikov assault
rifles, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
Nevertheless, the IDF and PA
recently reached new understandings regarding security arrangements at the holy
Israel’s interest in improving coordination with PA security
authorities came after a Palestinian policeman shot dead Ben-Yosef near the tomb
last April. Livnat, the nephew of Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat, had
entered Nablus without IDF authorization.
In recent months, the IDF and
the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria reached understandings with the
PA, which has now stationed 10 police officers at the tomb, a popular
destination for Jewish worshipers.
The PA has also put in place strict
rules of engagement, in an effort to prevent shootings of Jews who occasionally
sneak into the city to pray at the tomb.
Due to the improvement in
coordination, the IDF last week allowed a group of Jews to enter Nablus to pray
at the tomb without an Israeli military convoy and under the sole supervision of
PA security forces. The PA police met the group at the Huwara checkpoint south
of the city and escorted the worshipers during their time in
“This was a monumental event and is a demonstration of the
improvement in security coordination,” one defense source said.
upgrade in Israeli-PA coordination at the tomb comes as peace talks between the
sides remain deadlocked. Last week, PA President Mahmoud Abbas reiterated
that he would not continue talks with Israel unless it imposed a freeze on
Jewish construction in east Jerusalem and in West Bank
Despite the standoff, Israel is allowing the PA to expand
its security control to additional parts of the West Bank. Several weeks ago,
the IDF Central Command gave the PA permission to begin operating in Sebastia
near the Shavei Shomron settlement.
Sebastia is located in Area C, which
under the Oslo Accords is under Israeli civilian and military control.
Permission for the PA to operate in Area C is extremely rare due to the
proximity to Israeli settlements.
Last month, the Post
reported on an
Israeli decision to ignore the establishment of two PA police stations on the
outskirts of Jerusalem. The stations were established in territory marked as
Area B, which according to the Oslo Accords is under Israeli security control
and Palestinian civilian control.
The police stations in the
Jerusalem-border villages were established without Israeli government approval
but the state is not demanding that the PA remove them, since it prefers not to
deploy Israeli police and military forces in the villages.