Israel rejects request for PA body armor

Gov't considers transfer of security control over additional cities to the PA if Jenin plan succeeds.

Keith Dayton 224.88 (photo credit:)
Keith Dayton 224.88
(photo credit: )
Israel recently rejected a request by the US security coordinator to the region to allow Palestinian security forces to receive personal armor kits, night-vision goggles and electronic communication systems that the PA planned to use to set up a military communications network, The Jerusalem Post has learned. The request was made to the Defense Ministry by Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton, the American security coordinator to the Palestinians and Israel. Senior defense officials said Wednesday that Dayton made the request on behalf of the Palestinian Authority several weeks ago and that it was immediately rejected, since some of the items had the potential to "break the balance" between the IDF and the PA security forces. The Post has also learned that Israel is considering transferring security control over Tulkarm, Kalkilya and Hebron to the PA if a program being tested in Jenin is successful. Quartet envoy Tony Blair revealed the Jenin test project during a press conference in Jerusalem on Tuesday. According to Blair's plan, the PA will receive security control over a large area, including and surrounding Jenin. In addition, restrictions on the passage of Palestinian businessmen in the area will be eased. Blair also said Israel had agreed to remove four West Bank checkpoints, upgrade seven others, and move one. On May 3, 600 PA soldiers were allowed to deploy in Jenin after completing US-supervised training in Jordan. Israeli defense officials said that another Palestinian battalion - comprising around 400 soldiers - was scheduled to complete training next week and would likely be immediately deployed in Bethlehem to help secure the city, which will host an international investor conference next week. After the conference, the new battalion will probably be deployed to the Jenin area. Officials said that starting on June 1, another Palestinian battalion was slated to travel to Jordan for training conducted by US contractors who are supervised by Dayton. Under the Jenin pilot program, the IDF will retain operational freedom in the area, but will work more closely with the PA and try to coordinate its operations with local Palestinian commanders. Defense officials said the PA forces were doing an effective job at enforcing law and order in the area but that it was still too early to rely on them to curb Hamas terrorism.