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(photo credit: AP [file])
An Obama administration plan to train Palestinian forces and deploy them in the West Bank will receive its requested funding, Congress was expected to decide Thursday as Israeli officials said that the US had formulated a two-year plan to train a total of 10 battalions.
According to the decision, the 2009 fiscal year Supplemental Appropriations Bill will include $109 million for projects directed by the United States Security Coordination in Israel Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton. Congress is also currently evaluating an administration request to receive an additional $100m. to continue and expand the training in 2010.
Dayton has already overseen the training and deployment of three Palestinian battalions in the West Bank. The US-directed training is conducted in Jordan.
Israeli officials said Thursday that a request by Dayton to train another battalion had recently been approved and that additional requests - for more battalions - were expected. The officials said that Dayton's plan appeared to include 10 battalions that would be trained and deployed in the West Bank over the next two years.
Sources in the IDF said that while the battalions would not pose a strategic threat to Israel, their training and subsequent deployment in the West Bank would be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
The recent crackdown on Hamas cells in Kalkilya, the IDF sources said, was part of a Palestinian Authority effort to show the US and Israel that it was prepared to take over security responsibility of additional areas in the West Bank. In the past, battalions trained there have been deployed in Jenin, Jericho, Bethlehem and Hebron.
Under the Jenin model, the IDF has scaled back operations in that city, removed checkpoints in the area, permitted the deployment of US-trained Palestinian forces and allowed Israeli Arabs into the city to boost the local economy. In addition, Israel and the PA are working on the construction of an industrial park.