RAMALLAH Ñ The Palestinian Authority has launched efforts to create
a new counter-insurgency force.
Palestinian sources said PA Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas has
approved a plan to form a new agency that would fight insurgency groups in
the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The sources said Abbas has authorized Security
Affairs Minister Mohammed Dahlan to organize the agency, which would be
under his control.
The new agency is meant to ensure that PA forces can track and combat a
range of Palestinian insurgency groups without interference from PA Chairman
Yasser Arafat. Arafat has control of the lion's share of Palestinian
security forces and maintains links with such groups as Hamas and Islamic
Jihad, Middle East Newsline reported.
The sources said the new agency is envisioned to contain 2,000 security
officers. They said the force would be under Interior Ministry control and
supersede other agencies in investigations that focus on internal security.
Dahlan's agency is being formed with help of the United States, the
sources said. They said the new organization would draw from officers from
the Preventive Security Apparatus and General Intelligence in the Gaza
In the first phase, the sources said, the agency would operate in the
Gaza Strip. But the new group would also have authority in the West Bank and
take over much of the authority from the moribund Preventive Security.
A key problem for the proposed agency, the sources said, is the lack of
willing to accept the unpopular task of quelling insurgency movements. They
said the PA has proposed recruiting from Fatah combatants in Lebanon. Israel
has objected to the idea.
Egypt and Jordan are also expected to help train and equip any new PA
security force. On Thursday, PA and Jordanian officials discussed security
training during a meeting in Amman. The meeting was held within the
framework of security cooperation between the two entities.