Gifts for the Palestinians, and Questions

A blurb from The Washington Post summarized the gifts bestowed by Secretary of State Rice on the Palestinian Authority (PA) at Israel’s expense:

A blurb from The Washington Post summarized the gifts bestowed by Secretary of State Rice on the Palestinian Authority (PA) at Israel’s expense:

A series of concrete steps by Israel aimed at improving the Palestinian economy. The agreement includes: removing 50 travel barriers in and around Jenin, Tulkarem, Kalkilya and Ramallah; dismantling one permanent roadblock; deploying 700 Jordanian-trained Palestinian police in Jenin and allowing them to take delivery of armored vehicles; raising the number of Palestinian businessmen allowed into Israel; increasing the number of work permits for Palestinian laborers; building new housing for Palestinians in 25 villages; connecting Palestinian villages to the Israeli power grid; and Israeli support for large-scale economic development programs and encouragement of foreign investment.

PA police will also receive ammunition, rubber bullets and night-vision equipment, as well as high-powered assault rifles.

Question: why do houses for Palestinians not upset the Administration, while houses for Jews – even in the capital of the Jewish people – drive them nuts? Palestinian villages can expand, but the U.S. Ambassador to Israel tells Israelis on a visit to Jerusalem that the U.S. is “concerned about building in Jerusalem” and “sometimes people need to move.”

More important question: what did Israel get?

Most important question: what is the mission of the Palestinian police and why are we arming them if it isn’t clear? One American-Israeli version is that the Palestinians will guard against and prevent terror directed at Israel. Do the Palestinians agree that they will arrest, imprison or even kill their cousins in order to protect the security of Israelis?

An Israeli source says the new U.S. security report compiled by Gen. Fraser concludes the PA is “failing to fight terrorism.” According to the source, Fraser’s report “slammed the PA for failing to arrest, interrogate and place terrorist suspects on trial… the PA occasionally carries out arrests… following pressure from Israel or the U.S. The arrested terrorists… are rarely interrogated or tried but instead are briefly detained.” He is not the first American military officer to conclude that; might we hope is the last one asked?

Another version is that they will “make the streets of Nablus and Jenin safer from armed gangs,” probably meaning that they are supposed to protect Fatah from Hamas. This was an abject failure in Gaza, and highly dubious now as Fatah’s Al Aksa Martyrs Brigade (deemed a terrorist organization by the United States) has hundreds of members in the PA security services and presently threatens Abu Mazen himself on behalf of Hamas.

Subquestion: Do we know which members of the Al Aksa MB are planning to protect Abu Mazen and which are threatening him? If not, why not and why are we giving them guns?

Last question: When Hamas threw Fatah out of Gaza during the civil war there in 2006, Hamas acquired important stores of military/police equipment from Fatah arsenals. What confidence does the United States or Israel have that Fatah will better protect its arsenal in the coming Hamas-Fatah civil war on the West Bank?