Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Damned if you, damned if you don't

Yesterday, PA Chairman announced Hamas was ripe to take over the West Bank. Today I read in the Jerusalem Post the Palestinian Authority is set to axe 30,000 PA police men in the name of reform:
The Palestinian Authority government is planning to cut the number of policemen in the West Bank by half, officials in Ramallah said over the weekend. The decision was in the context of the PA government's efforts to reconstruct and reform the Fatah-controlled security forces, the officials explained.

But the move, which will leave about 30,000 policemen unemployed, has drawn sharp criticism from some Fatah leaders and security officials, who warned over the weekend that it would trigger a "revolt" against the PA leadership and destabilize security in the West Bank. A senior Fatah official said that it was "inconceivable" that the PA would reduce the number of its policemen while Hamas was recruiting more men to its security forces in the Gaza Strip. "I don't know whose idea this is, but it's a very dangerous one that will only weaken Fatah in the West Bank," he said. "Instead of getting rid of the policemen, we should be looking for more to join our security forces."

The PA security forces have some 80,000 men and women on their payroll. However, it is estimated that nearly half of them don't report to work and actually have no real jobs.

The PA has an unusually high ratio of security forces to civilians. Agreements signed between the Palestinians and Israel in 1994 and 1995 limited the PA security forces to some 30,000. Under pressure from the US and EU, PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salaam Fayad recently agreed to reduce the number of policemen in the West Bank by half. Previous attempts by the PA leadership to lay off thousands of policemen were called off for fear of a mutiny inside the Palestinian security services.

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