News / Middle East

    Palestinian Security Forces Reflect Promise of Future State

    Palestinian security forces have succeeded in creating better security in the West Bank
    Palestinian security forces have succeeded in creating better security in the West Bank

    Multimedia

    For the last few years, the United States and other Western nations have been training thousands of Palestinian police as part of efforts to build institutions for a new Palestinian state.  For the most part, the forces have succeeded in creating better security in the West Bank. Businesses are booming, and polls show most West Bank residents feel safer. However, many Israelis see the security forces as a de-facto army under Palestinian command that could one day turn against the Jewish State.

    It's early morning at the Palestinian Authority Security Forces camp in Ramallah.  

    These West Bank recruits are trained with U.S. help.  They are proud, and they are disciplined.

    "I decided to be part of the national security forces, first of all, to serve my homeland, and to implement the political decisions of our leaders," Sergeant Ali Salim Shaalan said. Shaalan is among hundreds of former Palestinian militants who are now part of the security forces.  His approach has changed, but his goal has not. "I want to participate in the building of our Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital," he said.

    The existence of a well-trained, disciplined force appears to be paying off.  Most West Bank residents say they feel safe on their streets.  The West Bank's economy is booming.

    But analysts say that confidence could collapse as the stalled peace process raises frustration among Palestinians who don't see statehood coming fast enough.

    Ramallah pollster Khalil Shikaki says the latest surveys indicate Palestinians are divided on the security forces. "About half of the Palestinians believe that the improved performance of the security services is essentially an attempt to disarm the resistance. The other half believes that this is part of state building. As long as diplomacy is not looking promising, Palestinians will continue to have doubts," he said.
    Recent polls show growing support among Palestinians for a return to violence.  

    This worries those who remember Palestinian security forces turning their guns on Israelis during the last Palestinian uprising.

    Israeli Brigadier General Shalom Hariri is a senior researcher at the Institute for Counter-Terrorism. He advises the Israeli administration on West Bank matters and says the potential exists for renewed violence against Israelis by Palestinian security forces.

    "If you ask me, today, they are doing something like 80 percent of the effort and this is very good compared to 10 percent in the days of Arafat. But still , it is very vulnerable and at the same time it's also very, very reversible," Hariri said. "For those of us who are used to the way things go in the West Bank, the situation can roll upside down within a week."

    Recent cases of attacks on Israelis by off-duty Palestinian police have fueled those fears. Palestinian commanders say the cases are isolated and the perpetrators have been punished.

    Sergeant Shaalan says he is - for now - placing his faith in the Palestinian leaders and their promises to end the Israeli occupation.  "There will be justice, a solution for our situation that will be found by the leaders.  At the end of the day, they will make the decisions, and we will obey their orders," he said.

    Shaalan says he hopes this is the dawn of a new era of peace, and not another day of conflict.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.