Report: Israel offered PA full security duties over city as pilot, Ramallah refused
Israel and Jordan recently offered Palestine a pilot program that would leave security responsibility over a single West Bank city entirely in the hands of the Palestinian Authority, in an effort to ease tensions over recent deadly Israeli raids, according to a report on Thursday .
According to an unsourced Channel 12 news report, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jordan’s King Abdullah II discussed the proposal secretly at a meeting in January. According to the plan, the Palestinian security forces would have the full responsibility for arresting suspected terrorist operatives and maintaining law and order in the city of Tulkarem or Qalqilya, thus avoiding violent, often fatal, clashes between people of the place and Israeli troops.
If the pilot program was successful, it could then be expanded to other cities, the report said.
According to Channel 12, the PA was not interested in the offer, believing it would weaken its already formidable status in the eyes of many Palestinians, as it would see them fully cooperating with Jerusalem on arrests.
Although Tulkarem and Qalqilya are part of Area A — land in the West Bank under civilian and security control of the PA — the IDF regularly enters the territory to make arrests.
Such attacks have increased significantly over the past year as Israel tries to combat a continuing wave of terror emanating mainly from the North West Bank, where the PA has lost significant control.
On Thursday, a Palestinian gunman who was behind a series of shooting attacks in the West Bank was shot dead during a raid by Israeli forces near Tulkarem.
The purported pilot program was not included in a communiqué released after a summit between Israel and the PA in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt on Sunday. However, the document emphasized the “legal right” of the PRA to exercise its security responsibility over Area A of the West Bank.
The largely Palestinian-integrated territory comprises about 20 percent of the West Bank and was placed under PA security and civilian control in the 1995 Oslo II Accords.
At the meeting, both sides pledged to reduce tensions days before the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which began on Wednesday night.
Israel and the PA also agreed to “establish a mechanism” to improve the economic conditions of the Palestinian people as well as the financial situation of the cash-strapped PA. That mechanism will also report to representatives from the US, Egypt and Jordan at a follow-up meeting in April.
In the previous regional summit last month in Aqaba, Israel urged the PA to do more to regain control of the northern West Bank, telling participants that the more Ramallah acts against armed groups in the region, the less the IDF will have to enter Area A. for raids that have become particularly deadly in recent months, an Israeli official told The Times of Israel at the time.
The PA countered that the IDF raids will further damage its legitimacy. Although it is in Ramallah’s interest to put pressure on armed groups many of whom oppose its rule, the PA has argued that cooperation with Israel on this front does not take place without parallel steps by Jerusalem to reinforce Palestinian sovereignty. but to weaken it in the eyes of the Palestinian people. , who strongly criticized Sunday’s summit with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hard-line government.
Over the past year, Palestinian gunmen have repeatedly targeted military posts, troops operating along the West Bank security barrier, Israeli settlements, and civilians on the roads.
In separate arrest raids early Thursday, the IDF said troops detained eight Palestinians suspected of involvement in terrorist activities.
Palestinian attacks on Israel and the West Bank in recent months have left 15 people dead – almost all of them Israeli – and many more injured.
At least 86 Palestinians have been killed since the beginning of the year, most of them in attacks or during clashes with security forces, although some were unrelated civilians and others were killed under circumstances that are being investigated.