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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

U.S. report finds Palestinian Authority not ready for nationhood

WASHINGTON — A secret U.S. report blames U.S. agencies for failing to improve Palestinian Authority security forces.

Officials said the State Department has received a report by U.S. security coordinator Gen. James Jones that determined the PA remained incapable of enforcing order in the West Bank despite the training of more than 1,000 Palestinian officers.

"It's a tough report, and much of it could remain classified," an official said, according to Middle East Newsline.

The Jones report, meant to review security requirements for a Palestinian state, was relayed to the Bush administration after nearly a year of intensive U.S. efforts to improve PA security forces in the West Bank.

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Officials said the report warned that inadequate PA security would hamper U.S. plans to establish a Palestinian state by 2009. They said the report outlined what Israel and the PA must do to meet the U.S. timetable.

Jones was said to have blasted Israel's role in the U.S. effort to improve PA security forces. Officials said the report asserted that Israel was hampering the movement of PA forces, blocking plans for weapons shipments and technology to the Palestinians and resisting coordination.

Officials said Jones' main task has been to reach an Israeli-PA security agreement that would enable the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank by January 2009. They said Jones has sought to mediate PA demands for a conventional military against Israel's position that the Palestinians must be equipped with no more than a strong police force.

The United States has urged Israel and the PA to enhance security coordination. On Aug. 4, PA and Israeli commanders discussed PA security deployment in the northern West Bank, particularly Jenin.

The U.S. general, appointed security coordinator in November 2007, was said to have urged President George Bush to publish the entire report. The report was said to have been critical of the lack of coordination between Jones and Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton, responsible for development of PA security forces.

The Bush administration has also appointed Lt. Gen. William Frazier to facilitate security requirements for a Palestinian state. Officials said Frazier has been monitoring Israeli and PA compliance with the so-called Roadmap, which outlined steps required for the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

"The Palestinians expressed satisfaction in light of the steps taken, and requested to continue to strengthen the Palestinian security forces and realm of authority," an Israeli military statement said on Aug. 5. "During the meeting which was conducted in a positive atmosphere, both sides agreed to hold additional such meetings in the future."

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