(photo credit: AP)
Israel has agreed in principle to let Jordanian-based Palestine Liberation Organization forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas enter the Gaza Strip to help shore up a 2-day-old truce, military officials said Tuesday.
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media, said Israel's decision is part of the truce deal that ended five months of fighting in Gaza.
The Jordanian-based Badr forces would be deployed along the Israel-Gaza border to beef up Palestinian troops trying to prevent terrorists from firing homemade rockets at Israeli border communities.
In the past, Israel has been reluctant to let armed PLO forces into the West Bank and Gaza Strip, but apparently hopes the Badr troops will strengthen Abbas and support the fledgling truce, possibly leading to a renewal of long-stalled peace talks.
Saeb Erekat, a senior Abbas aide, said the president requested Israeli permission to bring 1,200 Badr troops into Gaza several months ago, but "so far, it's not a done deal."
The presence of the Badr forces would be key to Abbas because they would be loyal to him rather than to the rival Hamas-led government. Security forces loyal to Abbas' Fatah Party have often clashed with a Hamas militia.