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(photo credit: US Department of Defense)
There is a growing sense in Jerusalem that Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton, the United States security coordinator with the Palestinians, is ineffective and should be replaced, senior government sources said Sunday night.
According to the sources, one of the cabinet ministers brought up the issue at Monday's cabinet meeting, saying, "I don't know what Dayton does. I'm not sure what he does."
One of Dayton's roles is to help train the Palestinian security forces.
Government sources said that there was a sense in Jerusalem that a more "dominant figure" was needed in this position.
"Nobody feels his presence, and at the end of the day, the issue of building an effective Palestinian security force is extremely important."
Defense officials said that in June - when Hamas took over the Gaza Strip - Dayton had already proven that he had "failed" in his mission to strengthen the security forces loyal to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
"Fatah was overrun in Gaza within a matter of hours, despite having more men and weapons than Hamas," a senior defense official said. "Dayton was supposed to prevent that from happening."
Dayton was appointed to his post as security coordinator to Israel and the PA in 2005 and was assigned the task of coordinating security issues between Israel and the Palestinians as well as training Abbas's Presidential Guard.
Since Hamas's takeover of the Gaza Strip, Dayton has focused most of his efforts on training Fatah forces at an installation near Jericho. He was also behind the recent deployment of several hundred Palestinian policemen in Nablus.
Defense officials have been highly critical of several of Dayton's plans over the past year - particularly the "benchmark" plan, which stipulated precise dates for several steps Israel needed to take in line with the road map. Included in the plan was the supply of weapons, ammunition and equipment to Abbas's security forces, as well as the lifting of roadblocks in the West Bank and allowing free passage between Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip.