U.S. policing Israeli commitment to stop pursuing Fatah men
Senior diplomat:'This is part of the activity to help the Palestinian security forces institute law and order.'
The U.S. security coordinator for the Palestinian Authority is checking whether Israel is upholding its agreement to stop pursuing Fatah militants in the West Bank, Haaretz has learned.
A senior Western diplomat said that officers from Keith W. Dayton's team have been meeting with Palestinian security officials in several West Bank cities.
"This is part of the activity to help the Palestinian security forces institute law and order," the diplomat said.
On Tuesday, a group of Canadian officers visited Nablus, which is considered home to the largest concentration of wanted Fatah militants. The officers met with some Palestinian security officials there.
Israel has agreed to stop pursuing 178 activists of Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades. Some of the activists are suspected of shooting attacks and working with Hezbollah to organize terror attacks on Israel.
The team is expected to draft an opinion on the Palestinians' request to expand the amnesty list.
The Palestinian security officials told the officers that the wanted men are staying at the security forces' headquarters, in keeping with the agreement with Israel. They said special committees are examining how to place them in the Palestinian police or other security forces.
The agreement was reached about a month ago at the conclusion of talks between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. A joint Israeli-Palestinian team is meeting to monitor the agreement's implementation.
Under the agreement, Israel said it would not work to capture the 178 activists unless it had clear evidence that they were involved in terror attacks.
In exchange, the Fatah activists agreed to hand in their weapons and spend their days at the security branches' headquarters. Israel said activists who maintain this behavior for three months would receive further alleviations, including greater freedom of movement within the West Bank.
Dayton's officers also are discussing the Palestinians' equipment and training needs. The U.S. intends to increase its aid for Abbas' forces in the West Bank, especially the Presidential Guard and National Security, sources told Haaretz.