King Abdullah: Jordan ready to train Palestinian police force

By Yoav Stern and Arnon Regular, Haaretz Correspondents, and Reuters ,and BPI. Jordan is ready to extend „all forms of support” to the Palestinians, including training police to take up security responsibilities after Israel evacuates the Gaza Strip, King Abdullah told visiting Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia on Thursday. „The monarch expressed Jordan’s readiness to extend all forms of support to the Palestinian people, including the rehabilitation the Palestinian security cadres,” said a statement from the Royal Court after talks that involved senior officials from both sides. Abdullah assured Qureia that „any Jordanian step for training Palestinian security forces will take place in coordination and consultation with the Palestinian Authority, and in response to its request.” He also reiterated that the planned Israeli pullout from the Gaza Strip „should be part of the road map, lead to a full withdrawal from all Palestinian territories and the setting up of an independent Palestinian state.” Quartet supports Egypt’s role in PA reforms The Quartet of international Middle East peace brokers lent support Thursday to Egyptian pressure on the Palestinians to reform their security forces ahead of an Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. In an interview with Palestinian newspaper Al-Ayam published earlier in the day, Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia said that the various PA security agencies would be consolidated by September. Qureia’s comments came in the day after his meeting with Egyptian intelligence chief General Omar Suleiman, in which Suleiman gave the Palestinians two months to carry out reforms, including the consolidation of the PA security agencies and the appointment of senior officials to assume security responsibility for the Gaza Strip. UN envoy Terje Roed-Larsen told reporters after Thursday’s meeting that the envoys supported Suleiman’s work. „We are giving full support to the Egyptian lead in their efforts with Israel and the Palestinians,” he said. The representatives of the Quartet, which comprises the United States, European Union, Russia and United Nations, met in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Taba, a venue chosen in recognition of Egypt’s role in working with the Palestinians.

High-level officials from Israel, Egypt, the United States and the PA will participate in a summit meeting in October in a location not yet determined, Qureia told the newspaper. European representatives may participate as well. In the coming months, the PA will be sending 30 to 40 security officers to Egypt for six months of training, Qureia said. Suleiman presented a detailed timetable to Israeli and Palestinian leaders Wednesday over how to secure the Gaza Strip: an overhaul of the Palestinian security forces and a cease-fire declaration by September, followed by the collection of militants’ weapons and the dismantling of militant groups. Suleiman, who met Arafat in Ramallah, said he was „very pleased” with the meeting, adding that Egyptian advisers could enter Gaza „within a few months.” An EU statement issued after the meeting said the envoys stressed „their strong support for the efforts of the Egyptian government in working with the two sides to put in place arrangements that will be critical to the success of the Israeli initiative to withdraw from Gaza.” But European Union envoy Marc Otte said Suleiman and the Palestinians needed to set a timetable for reorganizing the security forces before further talks with Israel. „It is normal that he first look for a timetable among the Palestinians, then to go back after that to Israel to agree on their side of the bargain,” he said. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has also welcomed Egypt’s involvement in his Gaza disengagement plan but said on Wednesday he would not allow the Egyptians to mediate between Israel and the Palestinians. Egypt is also trying to broker a total cease-fire, but Israel has said it is not ready to agree. Egypt is demanding that Israel withdraw from all of Gaza, including the Philadelphi Route, a narrow corridor along the Egyptian border, and commit itself to fully implementing the Quartet’s road map peace plan. The Egyptian plan provides for a multinational presence in Gaza to secure the airport but Otte said it was premature to talk about such a proposal. „The Palestinians and Israelis might see that as interference,” he added. The U.S. envoy, Undersecretary of State for Near East Affairs William Burns, said the Quartet would do everything it could to help Egypt but insisted that many questions remain unanswered about Sharon’s plan, which requires cabinet approval at various stages.