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

Multimedia VOA SPECIAL REPORT: US Army Turns Its Best Minds Toward Ebola

Scientists at America's premier biological research center race to find effective drugs, speedier tests and a safe vaccine amid the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history More

Kurdish Poet Battles to Defend Language, Culture

Kawa Nemir's work is an example of what he sees as an irreversible cultural and political assertiveness among Kurds in Turkey More

Dissident Venezuelan General Resurfaces in New York

Antonio Rivero has resurfaced after nearly a year in hiding, appearing at United Nations in New York More

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.
Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Goghi
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid