Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) - The first group of Palestinian Authority security forces trained in Jordan as part of a U.S.-funded program will be deployed in the West Bank soon, sources here said on Tuesday.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Tuesday that he would allow Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to deploy hundreds of security forces in the West Bank city of Jenin, where Israeli soldiers and Palestinian gunmen often clash.
According to reports, P.A. Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad will be notified of the decision when he meets with Barak on Wednesday.
The police forces are being trained in Jordan by Jordanian police officers in a program funded by the U.S.
A senior Western official told Cybercast News Service that the forces are learning "basic policing skills" that would enable them "to further law and order in the West Bank and provide safety and security for the people of the Palestinian Authority."
Those skills include "civil disturbance control," said the official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The training is part of a plan -- designed by Lt.-Gen Keith Dayton, the U.S. security coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian territories -- aimed at bolstering Abbas' government and establishing law and order in the West Bank.
Some $80 million was put into the project, earlier reports said.
Several hundred Palestinian police already have been deployed in the West Bank city of Nablus, but they were not among those trained in the U.S.-funded program.
The announcement comes at a time when Israel is being urged to make concessions to the Palestinians in order to shore up faltering Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Those talks were re-started at the U.S.-sponsored peace summit in Annapolis, Maryland, in November and recently stalled again.
Critics of the plan to train Palestinian police say the training ultimately could be used against Israel, as it has been in the past.
Barak has said that Israel "must exhaust all possible ways of assisting the negotiations with the Palestinians" and "ease restrictions on Palestinians whenever it does not conflict with [Israel's] defense, even at the price of a calculated risk."
He said that there were "a number of economic projects" that Israeli is working on "to generate momentum and provide jobs for Palestinians."
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is due back here early next week for talks intended to prod a permanent Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.
On Monday, a U.S. State Department spokesman said Rice would come with the message "that each side needs to do more, that they haven't done enough, and I expect that that will be a topic of her conversation when she goes out on the next trip as well as the trip after that. This is going to be something that we work with both sides in detail on."
President Bush said in January that he believed a final Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement was possible by the end of his term in office next year. Both sides have committed themselves to the goal but expressed their doubts about the reality of achieving it.
One U.S. diplomat here said Bush made it clear that Washington was not going to engage in "arm-twisting" or impose solutions on the two sides, but recent high-level visits prove that Bush is following through on his commitment to make the Israeli-Palestinian arena a top priority during his last year in office.
See Earlier Stories:
US Said to Have New Security Plan for Palestinians (Aug. 30, 2007)
US 'Non-Lethal Training' of Palestinians to Include Weapons Exercises (Aug. 20, 2007)
US Support of Abbas' Security Forces Viewed as 'Risky Business' (March 22, 2007)
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