Saturday 6 September 2008 (06 Ramadan 1429)
Israel allows arms shipment to West Bank
Matti Friedman I AP
JERUSALEM: Israel allowed Palestinian security forces in the West Bank to
receive a shipment of about 1,000 Kalashnikov rifles and tens of thousands of
bullets in a step aimed at bolstering the moderate Palestinian government
there, an Israeli defense official said yesterday.
Shipments of this type remain sensitive for Israel because weapons
provided to Palestinian security forces during peace talks in the 1990s were
used against Israelis when those talks broke down in violence in 2000. But
balancing those concerns are fears that if moderate forces are too weak they
might lose control of the West Bank to Hamas, the hard-line group that seized
power in the Gaza Strip last year.
The weapons shipment reached the Palestinians through Jordan about one
week ago, the Israeli official said. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas arranged the transfer when they met Aug.
31, he said.
Israel is under pressure to at least appear to be supporting Abbas as
part of US-sponsored peace negotiations. However, critics both at home and
abroad say Israel has not carried out key confidence-building measures, such as
halting settlement activity and dismantling roadblocks, that could help the
The Palestinians, for their part, have been criticized for not doing
enough to crack down on fighters, which is also seen as key to the talks'