Wednesday, January 17, 2007

IDF objects to U.S. plans to give Abbas' forces battle equipment

"The Israel Defense Forces has raised objections to U.S. plans to equip Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas's forces with body armor and other battle gear, an Israeli security source and European diplomats said on Wednesday.

An $86 million U.S. program to strengthen Abbas's presidential guard will include funding for four-wheel-drive vehicles, new uniforms and military training, diplomats briefed on the program said.

"The IDF's objections in this case center on equipment, such as body armor, that is liable to wind up in the wrong hands and be used for terrorism," an Israeli security source said.

A U.S. diplomat based in the region said the United States would ensure the equipment does not end up with Fatah militants. "It's going to be done in a way that's monitored," he said.

Other diplomats said U.S. and Israeli political leaders were putting pressure on the army to set aside their reservations. The Israeli security source said the Defense Ministry would make the final decision."

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