News / Middle East

Israel, Abbas Spar Over Palestinian Security Steps in West Bank

FILE - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (C) speaks in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Dec. 31, 2013.
FILE - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (C) speaks in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Dec. 31, 2013.
Reuters
Israel and the Palestinians disagreed sharply on Tuesday over the effectiveness of security measures by the regional Palestinian administration in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, deepening doubt about peace prospects in U.S.-brokered talks.

Foreign powers have been helping build up Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's security services in the West Bank to prevent militant attacks on Israelis and ward off any challenge from breakaway Hamas Islamists who control the Gaza Strip.

Relative calm is considered important to any chance of Israel and the Palestinians striking a long elusive deal for a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, next to Israel. But the two sides remain far apart on key terms.

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon poured scorn on the commitment of the Palestinian Authority, which exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank under interim peace deals, to follow through in moves against Palestinian militants.

“We counted 1,040 cases that were handled by the Palestinian security services in 2013. How many of them went to trial? Zero,” Yaalon said at an international conference hosted by Tel Aviv University's INSS think-tank.

In the same period, Yaalon said, Israel had arrested some 3,000 Palestinians, many of whom were later imprisoned.

Yaalon is a stalwart of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who balks at Palestinian calls to remove Jewish settlements from the West Bank. Yaalon ratcheted up acrimony this month with an Israeli newspaper quoting him as dismissing U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, the peace patron, as “messianic”.

After Yaalon's speech, the conference aired a videotaped interview with Abbas, who said he would stand firm on his statehood demands and could hold Hamas to a peace accord.

He did not say how. Hamas, which spurns permanent co-existence with Israel, won a 2006 Palestinian legislative election and a year later ejected Abbas's faction from Gaza.

'Utmost Challenge'

Asked what his administration was doing to maintain West Bank calm, Abbas said: “All the security forces are devoted to performing their duty to prevent arms smuggling and their use within the Palestinian Authority or Israel.”

“This is the utmost challenge that the security forces are dealing with. It is not a secret that this is done with the full cooperation of the Israeli and the American security apparatuses,” Abbas said.

A U.S. official briefed on the West Bank situation was hard put to explain the disagreement between Abbas and Yaalon.

“It's true that we haven't seen trials” of Palestinian suspects held by Abbas's administration, the official told Reuters on condition of anonymity. But, the official said, that did not mean there was no Palestinian security enforcement.

Asked if that meant Abbas's forces might be dealing with suspects away from public view, the U.S. official said “yes”.

With the peace talks at a virtual standstill, two surveys, by the INSS and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR), released on Tuesday found that 67 percent of Israelis and 70 percent of Palestinians do not believe a permanent peace accord can be reached.

The INSS poll surveyed 1,200 Israeli Jews, while 1,270 Palestinians were interviewed by the PSR in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Both polls have a margin of error of 3 percent.

With a nine-month target date set by Washington expiring in late April, disputes holding up peacemaking have included Israel's insistence on keeping a military and settler presence in the Jordan Valley, the future Palestine's eastern border.

Abbas said Palestinians must control their borders as part of final statehood, but that he was prepared to partner up with Israel as it withdraws, as well as with foreign peacekeepers.

“I think NATO is the suitable third party for this mission,” he said, repeating a proposal for a role by the U.S.-led alliance that he has voiced in the past.

You May Like

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

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