Just six weeks before Israel is due to evacuate its Gaza Strip settlements, the U.S. general charged with reforming the Palestinian security forces said Thursday that they were not yet ready to enforce internal security or prevent attacks on Israeli targets. Army Lt. Gen. William Ward told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee the Palestinians had not yet forged their disparate security groups into a single force under a centralized command. Ward depicted a Palestinian force that is woefully unprepared to handle internal policing duties or stop attacks on Israel after Israeli forces withdraw from Gaza. The Palestinian security force has more than 58,000 members, Ward said, but no more than 22,000 "actually show up for work."That's where he is wrong. They contribute, all right - just on the wrong side.
He said the force was like 'a social welfare net,' with the payroll including officers who do not 'contribute to the day-to-day security situation on the Palestinian street.'
The Washington Post adds:
Like daily terror attacks, shootings, killings, attempted bombings, arms smuggling, allowing terrorists to go free from jail, criticizing Israel for doing the PA police job, encouraging Palestinian kids to become martyrs, and accusing Israel of poisoning poor Palestinians.
Assistant Secretary of State C. David Welch, who has traveled repeatedly to the region to assist Israeli-Palestinian coordination on the Gaza withdrawal, echoed Ward's assessment. "Overall, Palestinian performance on confronting violence has been far from satisfactory, and this is a real shortfall and area of concern," Welch said.
Ward said he had completed an inventory of the equipment needed by the Palestinians, including vehicles, clothing and basic infrastructure. Some of it will be supplied by the Europeans, and he said he was working to expedite it through Israeli customs.
Israeli officials have drawn the line at providing lethal weapons to the Palestinian security. They have pointedly told their Palestinian counterparts that if they need weapons, they should simply collect the illegal ones on the streets.
Ward demurred when asked whether Abbas's strategy of trying to co-opt militant groups -- rather than confront them -- would work in the long run. He said that he did not "know if I'd do business that way" but that it "has created an atmosphere that is allowing other things that are important to occur."