June 3, 2008 - 5:07pm

Israel gave the Palestinian Authority permission on Tuesday to open three police stations in the northern West Bank as part of a U.S.-backed security campaign meant to ready the Palestinians for statehood.

Washington sees the campaign as a chance for Palestinian forces to show they can exert control and rein in militants.

A Palestinian police official, Major Mohammed Tayem, said 105 policemen would be stationed in the new stations in three villages near the city of Jenin in the northern West Bank.

The policemen will be armed with assault rifles and handguns, the official said.

Israel had authorised the opening of some 20 new Palestinian police stations across the occupied West Bank. The three in the Jenin area will officially open on Sunday, Tayem said.

Hundreds of members of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's forces were deployed last month in Jenin, long seen as a militant bastion.

Israel has said it will maintain overall security responsibility despite the Palestinian deployment.


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