Palestinian Authority security forces have told U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell they want to open 28 more â€œpolice stationsâ€ in areas in Judea and Samaria where Jews live and where security is shared with Israel, the Chinese news agency Xinhua reported.
An Israeli government spokesman said he knows nothing of the report, and a spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy told Israel National News he stands by a general policy not to comment on the "proximity talks" that Mitchell is mediating between the PA and Israel.
Israel has agreed to full PA control over security in several major Arab cities, such as Shechem and Jenin, where the police forces were trained by American military officers and are in effect a fledgling PA army.
The Oslo Accords officially prohibit a PA military, but PA police spokesman Adnana Al-Demiri, said the police "need to expand their authority." He complained that Israeli checkpoints prevent the PA forces from moving freely.
The proposed additional police stations are in areas where there are frequent clashes between Arabs and Israeli forces. Previous deployment of Arab police forces has resulted in several terrorist attacks carried out by PA policemen.
Opening roadblocks as "goodwill" measures for PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas frequently has been followed by terrorist attacks. One Israeli policeman was killed and two others were seriously wounded earlier this month near Hevron, where two key roadblocks had been removed earlier in the past year. However, IDF officers recently have praised the PA for cooperation with the army.
"We hope to agree on this plan within the coming few weeks," a source told Xinhua. Israel already has allowed 62 police stations through Judea and Samaria, including 14 in areas where Israel shares security control.
Abbas is waiting for answers from Israel on issues he presented last week to Mitchell, who is expected to return to Israel this Thursday.
Rumors of a possible three-way summit next month between Abbas, U.S. President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu were squelched by Ramallah officials. Yasser Abed Rabbo, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)’s executive committee, told Voice of Palestine radio that the idea of a summit "was not even raised."
He added that the reports "published from time to time by Israeli media are attempts to distract the attention away from the central issue which is the total cessation of Jewish settlement in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and launch a new serious political process."
Several Israeli media outlets, who often try to promote the formation of a new Arab state that would include parts of Jerusalem and all of Judea and Samaria, reported that American officials are pressuring for a summit.
The current American-mediated talks represent a step backwards for the United States, which shuttled back and forth between Israeli and PA officials 16 years ago before the two sides agreed to sit down face-to-face. The last direct talks were held in late December 2008, when Hamas missile attacks from Gaza prompted the counterterrorist Operation Cast Lead campaign.
Netanyahu has invited Abbas several times for direct discussions, but the PA leader has conditioned the talks on Israel’s announcing a permanent freeze on building for Jews in Judea and Samaria.
The PA has insisted that Israel accept all of the conditions laid out in the Saudi 2002 initiative and has adopted a strategy of creating facts on the ground that preclude negotiating any of the terms of the plan. The United States has adopted the Arab position that the Jewish presence in post-1967 Jerusalem is "illegitimate."