Palestinians, Israelis, cooperating in some security functions

Special to World
Tuesday, October 28, 2003

JERUSALEM The Palestinian Authority has agreed to provide limited security cooperation with Israel.

Israeli officials said the focus of the security cooperation has been in the West Bank city of Bethlehem. They said PA security commanders have engaged in joint operations to foil Palestinian insurgency attacks from Bethlehem against neighboring Jerusalem and Israeli communities in the area.

The cooperation was said to include intelligence exchange as well as Palestinian operations to capture insurgency weapons and prevent the movement of insurgents. Officials said these activities have prevented several insurgency attacks on Jerusalem and a highway that links Israeli communities in the southern West Bank.

In July, Israel handed over control of Bethlehem to the PA and formally withdrew troops from the city. Since then, only one Palestinian attack has been cited as coming from the city.

Officials said Palestinian insurgents were foiled in plans to fire mortars toward Jerusalem. In other cases, PA police stopped Palestinians from blocking a road outside Bethlehem and attacking Israeli motorists.

Details of Israeli-PA cooperation have been sketchy. Israeli officials said they did not want to harm the limited cooperation by providing details.

PA security agencies were said to have done little in other West Bank cities, particularly in the northern areas of Jenin and Nablus. Israeli forces have surrounded Jenin and Nablus and conduct nightly patrols in those cities.

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