August 17, 2011 - 12:00am

Senior Israel military officials are considering what one termed "confidence-building measures," to convince Palestinian leaders not to continue with their planned statehood bid at the UN General Assembly next month, including allowing the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) security services in the West Bank to procure more weapons.

The arms would be brought in via Jordan, according to the recommendations, which were listed in a brief that has been forwarded to the government, the Ynet news reported Wednesday.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak backs the plan's goodwill gestures, according to The Jerusalem Post newspaper, while Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz is against the idea.

The idea's proponents believe the PNA has an strong interest in keeping a lid on public protests against both Israel and its own leadership.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of General Staff Lt.- Gen. Benny Gantz and Shin Bet (the Israel Security Agency) chief Yoram Cohen also support the plan, the newspaper said.

"This would be a way to get the Palestinians to understand that they have a lot to gain by working together with us, as opposed to making unilateral moves," one defense official was quoted as saying.

Defense echelon officials also suggested greenlighting more desalination facilities and pumping more water into the West Bank and Gaza Strip, increasing the number of Palestinian businessmen and day workers from both areas allowed into Israel, and allowing more Palestinians to take part in an European-Union-backed agricultural training program.

Israel UN Ambassador Ron Prosor on Tuesday reiterated his government's position that a showdown over the issue with the Palestinians not benefit either side. Prosor joined a list of senior Israeli officials in calling on the PNA leadership to resume the direct negotiations.

"(The Palestinians) have climbed on a tree ... what is going to happen in the end is that they will fall, but they won't just hurt themselves but everyone else in the vicinity," Prosor said.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017