Reported in Israel this week:
[Since 2007, the U.S. State Department] has invested $392 million in rehabilitating and training [Palestinian Authority] security forces … more than $160 million to fund certain units of the security forces, $89 million for vehicles and nonlethal equipment, $99 million for the renovation or construction of PA security forces’ installations and $22 million in programs to increase the forces’ capacity. The State Department has requested an additional $150 million for 2011.
The forces are trained mainly in Jordan, and then deployed in the West Bank. U.S. Army Lieutenant General Keith Dayton, who has been in charge of this endeavor and is soon to be replaced by U.S. Air Force Major General Michael Moeller, said in May 2009:
With big expectations, come big risks. There is perhaps a two-year shelf life on being told that you’re creating a state, when you’re not.
He was clearly implying that the Palestinians were being trained for the purpose of becoming the security force of an imminent Palestinian state. Now, in July 2010, with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas refusing — despite heavy Western pressure — even to enter talks with Israel, the “big risks” Dayton referred to seem to be looming.
Indeed, as revealed by Israeli media outlets this week, Israel regards this whole enterprise as risky, whether or not a Palestinian state is on the way. Yoni Ben-Menachem, head of Israel Radio since 2003, said on Monday:
Israeli security forces show great suspicion toward the Palestinian security apparatus in the West Bank despite the fact that they battle Hamas and were trained by U.S. General Dayton. Israel assesses that a scenario of another armed intifada in the West Bank is possible and that the Palestinian security apparatus might act against the settlers and IDF soldiers.
Ben-Menachem goes on to cite General Avi Mizrahi, head of Israel’s Central Command, saying in a speech last May at the national training center:
[The] IDF must also be prepared for an escalation in fighting against Palestinian security personnel trained in Jordan by U.S. General Dayton.
This is a trained force, better equipped by an American mentor, and the upshot is that at the beginning of combat, the price we pay will be higher. Such a force can close down a built-up area with four snipers, it’s deadly. It is no longer the gunmen of Jenin. It is an infantry force standing in front of us and we must take that into consideration.