[Dr. Aaron Lerner - IMRA: The introduction of Jordanian human shields with
the very real potential of dangerous and damaging incidents as well as
possible long term ramifications of the deployment of the Jordanian army at
the gates of Jerusalem and Kfar Sava are so great that one can only wonder
how many minutes - or seconds - were devoted to thinking this through.
This move also goes against the guiding principle of demilitarization of all
areas this side of the Jordan River.]
Olmert may allow Jordanian Army to help PA in West Bank
Herb Keinon, THE JERUSALEM POST Jul. 30, 2007
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is exploring the idea of allowing Jordanian
forces, and not NATO troops, into the West Bank to help the Palestinian
Authority fight terrorism, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
What Olmert has in mind, and what has been raised in recent meetings with
Jordan's King Abdullah II, is not the Badr Brigade - a group of Palestinian
soldiers inside the Jordanian Army - but rather "regular" Jordanian Army
troops, Beduin who have experience fighting terrorism.
The Badr Brigade is a unit in the Jordanian Army composed of 1,500 to 2,000
Palestinians who receive salaries from the PLO. The introduction of the Badr
Brigade into the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to support Palestinian
Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has been talked about endlessly and without
any concrete results for years.
But Olmert, in recent meetings, has raised the possibility of introducing
regular forces from the Jordanian Army. He has said this could be an
effective way to help Abbas create a semblance of security in the West Bank.
The idea is likely to be raised when Olmert and Abbas meet next week, just
days after Wednesday's planned visit by US Secretary of State Condoleezza
Olmert and Abbas met two weeks ago and - in addition to discussing
day-to-day security issues - reportedly discussed final-status issues.
"We have started very seriously to talk with Mr. Abbas on a peace process
and questions that can allow a Palestinian state to be established," Olmert
said last week. The "discussions will continue at the pace we have agreed
upon, and we are in agreement for them to continue until they bear concrete
results," he added.
If security arrangements can be worked out, the Olmert-Abbas meeting may
take place in Jericho, which would be the first time the two men would meet
in the PA.
Olmert, during a speech last Thursday at the National Security College, was
asked about the possibility of an international force in the Gaza Strip, an
idea that has been raised on numerous occasions but is deemed unrealistic at
this time. In his answer, he chose to talk instead about the possibility of
an international force in the West Bank.
Olmert said the performance of the expanded UNIFIL peacekeeping force in
southern Lebanon since the Second Lebanon War had shown that an
international force could be effective, given the right mandate and the
right make-up of forces. He said the German, Italian and French units had
been much more effective in southern Lebanon than forces from Muslim states
such as Indonesia and Malaysia.
Olmert said the south Lebanon model was encouraging in looking at future
scenarios for the West Bank.
"Perhaps when we leave territories in the West Bank, an international force
could be one to think about," he was quoted as saying by one of the
participants in the meeting. "Perhaps an Arab army in the West Bank."
When Olmert has talked in recent weeks in closed meetings about an Arab
force, he has meant a Jordanian force.
Vice Premier Haim Ramon told Israel Radio on Friday that Israel should
withdraw from most of the West Bank and that NATO forces could replace the
IDF in the areas evacuated. Although Ramon is a close Olmert confidant, this
idea is not considered to be one that Olmert is pushing or even necessarily
While there is widespread speculation a NATO force would be deployed as part
of a peace agreement, Olmert's idea for an Arab force in the West Bank is
something that could be implemented well before a final-status agreement was