(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu is urging that Jordanian troops help secure the West Bank. He planned to raise the issue in a conversation with US Vice President Dick Cheney Thursday afternoon.
Netanyahu visited New York and Washington this week, on the heels of visits to the same cities by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, to push for divestment from Iran.
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah faction won't be able to retain control of the West Bank without outside help, Netanyahu said.
"We have to shore up the Abbas government," he told reporters. "But we have to do that with regional participation, that is with Jordanian support." He called for Jordan to provide "some security presence."
"There's tremendous danger to them," Netanyahu said. "Since it endangers the Hashemite Kingdom, we expect them to lend a hand."
He warned against an Israeli and US rush to make gestures to Abbas that could make the situation worse.
Returning responsibility for the Palestinians to Jordan has long been promoted by the Right. Though Netanyahu stopped short of backing such a dramatic step at this point, the chaos in the Gaza Strip and the threat of the rise of Hamas might give traction to the idea.
Netanyahu cautioned against releasing popular Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti from jail or unilateral withdrawal from West Bank territory.
"We could repeat the same mistake, and the mistake is to assume that you have someone to do the job who is either unwilling or unable," he said. "Let's say he's unwilling. He's certainly unable, no matter how much you prop him up."
Netanyahu also met with leading presidential contenders Senator Hillary Clinton and former senator Fred Thompson on his trip.
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