New PA battalion to deploy in W. Bank

600 Palestinian soldiers trained in Jordan to be used to restore order in Tulkarm or Kalkilya.

pa police jenin 224 88  (photo credit: AP)
pa police jenin 224 88
(photo credit: AP)
A battalion of some 600 Palestinian soldiers will return to the West Bank on Wednesday for possible deployment in Tulkarm or Kalkilya after completing training in Jordan. The decision on where the new battalion would be stationed, Israeli defense officials said Tuesday, would be up to the IDF and based on the performance of another battalion that was allowed to take over security control in the Jenin area last month. The Jenin plan, formulated by Quartet envoy Tony Blair, is part of a test to see if Palestinian Authority forces can enforce law and order and curb terrorism. Under the plan, restrictions on the movement of Palestinian businessmen in the Jenin area have been eased. Until a final decision is made on their deployment, the 600 soldiers returning from Jordan will take up positions in Jericho. Officials also said that starting on Sunday, a third Palestinian battalion is slated to travel to Jordan for training conducted by American contractors under the supervision of the US security coordinator to the region, Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton. On Tuesday, the head of the Civil Administration in the West Bank, Brig.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, and OC Judea and Samaria Division Brig.-Gen. Noam Tibon met with PA Civil Affairs Minister Hussein a-Sheikh at his office in Ramallah. It was the first time in recent years that a coordination meeting took place in the city. The IDF officers urged Sheikh to order the PA battalion in Jenin to take more action against Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The officials said that while the battalion was doing an effective job at enforcing the law and closing down Hamas charities, it had yet to begin actually confronting the terrorists. Under the Jenin plan, the IDF retains operational freedom in the area but works more closely with the PA and tries to coordinate its operations with local Palestinian commanders. Sheikh reiterated a Palestinian request, which had been conveyed recently to Israel by Dayton and rejected, for body armor and night-vision goggles, as well as electronic systems that the PA wanted to use to set up a military-style communications network. On Tuesday, the IDF officers said they would review the request.