PA Police in Jenin: Pro and Con
(IsraelNN.com) Nationalist camp opinion is divided as to whether Israel should allow the PA to police the city of Jenin. Gen. Amidror and MK Edelstein weigh in.
Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror says that giving the PA a chance to instill civil order in Jenin is likely to give Fatah an edge over Hamas. MK Yuli Edelstein says that giving more guns to PA Arabs is not just a "calculated risk," but actually a clear and present danger.
Both spoke with Arutz-7's Hebrew newsmagazine on Tuesday.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak has agreed to allow 600 armed Palestinian Authority policemen to patrol the northern Shomron city of Jenin, located 25 miles northeast of Netanya. He explained that it is a "calculated risk" at the expense of security for his countrymen. "We have overriding responsibility for the security of Israeli citizens," Barak said on Tuesday, "but in order to improve the chances in our talks with the Palestinians, we must try to make things easier for them - even at the price of a calculated risk."
Overall security responsibility in Samaria will remain in Israeli hands.
Gen. Amidror thinks it's a good idea. "We have no pretense of being responsible for the people of Jenin," he said, "and the Palestinian Authority is trying to take responsibility. This is how it is in Shechem [Nablus]. It won't be so bad if they instill some law and order there - instead of us having to send in our forces for that."
"If we see that these policemen use their weapons in terrorist attacks, we should shoot them with no hesitation," Amidror said.
Likud MK Yuli Edelstein, however, says it's not a question of "if," but rather "when." "You can ask the Zoldan, Rubin and Amichai families," Edelstein said, "whose sons were murdered by PA policemen with weapons given them to instill law and order yet were turned against us instead."
Ido Zoldan, 29 and a father of two, was murdered in a terrorist shooting attack near Kedumim this past November. Though the murderers were arrested the next day, the government waited two weeks - until after the Annapolis Conference - to announce that they were PA policemen.
A month later, Amikam Amichai and David Rubin, two soldiers on a hike in the Telem area west of Hevron, were ambushed and murdered by Arab terrorists. One of the killers was employed in the PA American-trained security forces; rather than be caught by Israel, he and his accomplice gave themselves up to PA forces shortly after the murder - and last week they "escaped" from their jail cell, in what many Israeli obervers have called the PA's revolving door policy of setting wanted terrorists free.
In a letter to Defense Minister Barak after hearing of the decision to allow PA policemen to patrol Jenin, Zoldan's father Nachman asked in the name of his and other terror-victim families to please "reconsider your decision. Over the years, considerable facts and figures have emerged that all point to deep involvement of those same Palestinian security forces, in all its ranks and levels, in the terror campaign against Israel. This involvement in terror, ranging from intelligence gathering through actual terrorist acts, is carried out by uniformed and plainclothed Palestinian policemen as well as high-ranking police officers."
Zoldan also expressed concern about the permission granted by the Defense Minister for the PA policemen to be trained in Jordan under American auspices: "Recent terrorist attacks have displayed a regrettably much-improved performance of the terrorist organizations. We are therefore very concerned regarding permission you granted to these same policemen to undergo training in Jordan. This training, under American guidance, will grant them heightened professionalism that will enable them, according to past experience, to act in the future against us, civilians and IDF soldiers alike, with increased effectiveness."
Zoldan also noted with concern Barak's decision to allow the transfer of 40 armored cars to the PA, granting future terrorists "mobility, navigability, maneuverability and the ability to evade our forces."
Zoldan concluded with a request "for an urgent meeting regarding your appalling justification of your decision to 'take calculated risks.' The many ramifications of this statement include life in the shadow of bereavement and loss, the ongoing hellishness of pain and grief for the immediate families and extended circles of friends of slain victims, and the rage at the murders. And the murdered victims! -- those whose only 'crime' was to travel on the roads to their homes, their jobs or their studies; 'salt of the earth' who placed their faith in you, their elected leaders, to protect them. And you take 'calculated risks' with their lives! You, our elected representatives, do not take risks with your own lives, but are closely guarded and secured at great monetary cost to the public. Therefore it is not ethically appropriate to cast 'calculated risks' on the unwitting public."
Asked about the escape of the murderers of the two hikers, Gen. Amidror said, "Israel should have acted very differently in the first place. Instead of asking for favors from a foreign entity [to find them], Israel should make sure to find them and kill them herself."
Amidror said that Hamas is becoming stronger because of three reasons. The first two - corruption in Fatah, and Hamas success in running Gaza - are not in Israel's control, he said, "but the third one is up to us, and that is Hamas military strengthening. If we leave the cities totally, Hamas will win. We have to make sure to put a stop to the growth in Hamas military capacities. If the Fatah policemen make sure to keep law and order, the people there might realize that there is an alternative to Hamas."
Edelstein sees it differently: "Bringing armed Fatah policemen into Jenin will turn Jenin into a terrorism capital." He said it is a mistaken conception to believe that "we have a partner in [Fatah chief] Mahmoud Abbas and that we must strengthen him. We used to say we have to strengthen Arafat, and now it's Abbas, but the bottom line is that we always end up fighting against the weapons that we gave them. Even Abbas himself said recently that he does not rule out the possibility of a third intifada..."