Israel has agreed to allow the PA to expand its police presence to towns near Jerusalem less than a month after the PLO had threatened to end security cooperation entirely.
Israel has quietly extended the authority of Palestinian police, allowing them to patrol West Bank towns near Jerusalem for the first time. The move comes despite threats last month by the PLO to end security cooperation with Israel.
According to Louy Izriqat, spokesman for the Palestinian Authority (PA) police, 90 armed officers have been deployed in Abu Dis, A-Ram and Biddu in accordance with an agreement made between Israel and the PA on the sidelines of failed US-mediated negotiations. “An old agreement is being implemented today,” he told Reuters.
The PA is responsible for policing Area A, which includes eight Palestinian cities – Ramallah, Bethlehem, Jericho, Nablus, Jenin, Tulkarem, Qalqiliya, and 80% of Hebron – as well as parts of Area B. Israeli officials did not comment on the change, which comes shortly after the PLO Central Council deliberated ending security cooperation with Israel entirely. A recent poll shows that a majority of Palestinians are in favor of ending security cooperation.
Security spending is a major headache for the PA, consuming approximately 30 percent of the annual budget. Most of that goes towards salaries, as some 70,000 Palestinians are employed by the various security services. The PA announced Wednesday that it had received a $100 million loan from the government of Qatar to help pay civil servants’ salaries.
Israel froze tax transfers to the PA in January in response to the successful Palestinian bid for accession to the International Criminal Court. It was the latest in a series of unilateral moves intended to secure Palestinian statehood outside of the context of the peace process. As a result of the freeze, the PA has had difficulty paying its employees.