Keith Dayton 224.88.
(photo credit: )
The Palestinian Authority is planning to deploy some 500 policemen in Nablus, the largest West Bank city, as part of an effort to end the state of lawlessness and anarchy and undermine Hamas's influence, PA security officials said Thursday.
The officials told The Jerusalem Post that the PA security forces were ready to assume their full responsibilities in the city in the coming days.
They were speaking shortly after meeting with US security coordinator Lt. General Keith Dayton, who visited Nablus for talks with PA security officials on the PA's security plan. He was accompanied on his visit by security officials from Canada, Britain and Australia.
"This is where the Palestinian state will get its first real test," Dayton said. "When you succeed in Nablus, it will send a message throughout the West Bank and it will send a message to your neighbors that you're serious about law and order and that you can do the job."
A PA security official said, "Our forces are ready to enter Nablus on November 1. We are only waiting for a green light from Israel."
Col. Ahmed Sharqawi, commander of the PA police in Nablus, said the policemen would be deployed in many parts of the city. He added that militiamen would be banned from roaming the streets and expressed hope that the residents of Nablus would cooperate with the police.
Sharqawi was among the security officials who met with Dayton. The other PA officials who participated in the meeting were Gen. Majed Faraj, head of the PA Military Intelligence Force, Gen. Abu Al-Fateh, commander of the PA National Security Force, Akram rajoub, head of the PA Preventative Security Force in Nablus and Col. Abu Jihad, head of the PA General Intelligence Service in the city.
Dayton hailed the PA's security plan for Nablus, saying Washington supports any effort to bring security to the West Bank.
The PA governor of Nablus, Jamal Muhaisen, said the Palestinians briefed the security team on the situation in the city. He accused Israel of destroying the economy of the city by repeatedly launching military operations there. He also called for resolving the problem of dozens of Fatah gunmen in the city who are wanted by Israel.
It's not clear at this stage if the PA intends to deploy its forces inside the three main refugee camps surrounding Nablus. Previous attempts by the PA to dispatch policemen to the camps were foiled by members of Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades who, according to local residents, are largely responsible for the ongoing state of anarchy.
In Gaza City, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoun condemned US aid to the Fatah-controlled security forces in the West Bank. He said the Americans were rewarding PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and his security forces because of their "campaign of repression and destruction against Hamas in the West Bank."
Another Hamas representative, Mushir Al-Masri, warned that his men would overthrow Abbas's regime in the West Bank if the clampdown on Hamas continues. "Abbas will never be able to impose his American-Zionist agenda on Hamas," he said. "The Gaza scenario will be copied to the West Bank if
the pressure on Hamas persists."