Monday, July 30, 2007
"Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is exploring the idea of allowing Jordanian forces, and not NATO troops, into the West Bank to help the Palestinian Authority fight terrorism, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
What Olmert has in mind, and what has been raised in recent meetings with Jordan's King Abdullah II, is not the Badr Brigade - a group of Palestinian soldiers inside the Jordanian Army - but rather "regular" Jordanian Army troops, Beduins who have experience fighting terrorism.
The Badr Brigade is a unit in the Jordanian Army composed of 1,500 to 2,000 Palestinians who receive salaries from the PLO. The introduction of the Badr Brigade into the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to support Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has been talked about endlessly and without any concrete results for years.
But Olmert, in recent meetings, has raised the possibility of introducing regular forces from the Jordanian Army. He has said this could be an effective way to help Abbas create a semblance of security in the West Bank.
The idea is likely to be raised when Olmert and Abbas meet next week, just days after Wednesday's planned visit by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.......
Olmert said the performance of the expanded UNIFIL peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon since the Second Lebanon War had shown that an international force could be effective, given the right mandate and the right make-up of forces. He added that the German, Italian and French units had been much more effective in southern Lebanon than forces from Muslim states such as Indonesia and Malaysia.
Olmert further added that the south Lebanon model was encouraging in looking at future scenarios for the West Bank. "Perhaps when we leave the territories in the West Bank, an international force could be one to think about," he was quoted as saying by one of the participants in the meeting. "Perhaps an Arab army in the West Bank."
When Olmert has talked in recent weeks in closed meetings about an Arab force, he has meant a Jordanian force........"