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After 4 years of rejecting PA requests, Israel allows delivery of jeeps to Palestinian forces

Dec. 7, 2016 10:15 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 8, 2016 12:25 P.M.)
Palestinian security forces (File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Israel allowed five armored jeeps to be delivered to Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces earlier this week, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on Tuesday, in a rare move amid the PA’s increased security crackdown in the northern occupied West Bank.

A senior Israeli official told Haaretz that Israel had rejected the PA’s request to allow the armored vehicles in for four years, but that the “deteriorating security situation” in the West Bank had led Israeli authorities to change their position.

The Nablus district of the West Bank has been the site of violent clashes involving Palestinian security forces since a massive security crackdown was launched across the West Bank, which turned deadly in August when two policemen were killed during a raid in the Old City of Nablus to uncover weapons and make arrests.

A number of gunmen and suspected gunmen have since been killed by Israeli forces, notably Ahmad Izz Halaweh, the alleged mastermind behind the police shooting, who was beaten to death in custody, causing widespread criticism over the unclear circumstances in which Palestinian fugitives have been arrested and killed

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman approved the delivery, which took place between Sunday and Monday at the Allenby Bridge border crossing between Jordan and the West Bank.

Jordan supplied the vehicles, while the United States supported the transfer.

Israel has seriously limited the import of weapons and security equipment meant for PA security forces in the past several years, despite the fact that the Israeli army’s central command estimated in May that the PA was responsible for approximately 40 percent of all arrests of “suspected terrorists.”

The recent Israeli decision was all the more unusual given that Lieberman, who approved the transfer of the jeeps, said on Wednesday that a peace agreement between Israel and the PA would be impossible in coming years due to the “extreme positions” of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Ynet reported.

Lieberman was the second Israeli minister to accuse Abbas of being too radical in the span of a week, after Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz called Abbas the “number one enemy” of Israel on Thursday.

Israeli officials’ stinging criticism of Abbas comes amid growing discontent in Palestinian society over the PA -- as well as its ruling party Fatah -- and its perceived inaction against daily Israeli violations of international law in the occupied Palestinian territory.

The PA has also regularly come under fire by Palestinian political factions for its security coordination with Israeli authorities, which has allegedly included passing along intelligence regarding attacks against Israeli targets, and adopting a “revolving door policy” funneling Palestinians from PA jails into Israeli prisons.

Numerous Palestinian groups have repeatedly accused the PA of aligning with Israel's goals in the occupied West Bank, and of preventing a sustained uprising against Israel.
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