PA cabinet okays joint security plan

Plan includes Hamas-Fatah operations, exhorts gunmen not to flaunt weapons.

fatah  hamas clash 298.8 (photo credit: AP [file])
fatah hamas clash 298.8
(photo credit: AP [file])
The Palestinian Authority Cabinet on Saturday approved a new security plan that is to include a joint operations room for rival security forces and an appeal to gunmen not to flaunt their weapons. The plan is to be the centerpiece of cooperation between Hamas and Fatah. However, details remained sketchy, particularly on whether Hamas's militia, formed last year, would be dissolved. The forming of the militia, known as the Executive Force, had raised Hamas-Fatah tensions and helped trigger months of deadly infighting with Fatah-allied security forces. Last month, Hamas and Fatah established a coalition government, based on a power-sharing deal brokered by Saudi Arabia. However, the most explosive issue - control over the security forces - was not resolved in coalition talks, and it remains unclear whether the security plan is specific enough to end the rivalries for good. PA Information Minister Mustafa Barghouti said Saturday that a joint operations center would be set up for all the security forces. Also, Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is to announce the formation of a new National Security Council in two days, Barghouti said. The panel will include Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas, Abbas security adviser and Fatah strongman Mohammed Dahlan, as well as the independents in the key posts of foreign, finance and interior. Education Minister Nasser Shaer of Hamas suggested that the security forces would not seek a confrontation with Hamas and Fatah gunmen or other armed vigilantes. At best, the authorities would ask the factions not to flaunt their weapons in public. "We need an agreement with the factions to stop military demonstrations," Shaer said. Similar plans have been floated in the past, without success. Shaer said this one might work because both Hamas and Fatah back it. "Everyone is now interested in imposing law and order, and we hope we can now succeed," he said.