Yaakov Katz
The Jerusalem Post
January 24, 2012 - 1:00am

Israel is turning a blind eye to the establishment of two Palestinian Authority police stations on the border of Jerusalem as it considers a series of goodwill gestures to President Mahmoud Abbas.

One of the police stations was established recently in the village of a-Ram, which lies northeast of the Jerusalem neighborhood Neveh Ya’acov, just outside the capital’s municipal borders. The second station was established in what is known as the Biddu enclave – a group of eight Palestinian villages located near Ramallah and along Road 443.

The stations were established in territory marked as Area B, which according to the Oslo Accords is land under Israeli security control and Palestinian civilian control.

In recent years, the IDF has allowed the PA to establish police stations within villages in Area B, in line with government policy, to bolster Abbas’s government and grant it the necessary tools to enforce law and order in the Palestinian territories.

The Jerusalem Post has learned, however, that the two police stations in the Jerusalem-borderline villages were established without Israeli government approval. Nevertheless, the state is not demanding that the PA remove them, since it prefers not to insert its own police and military forces in the villages.

“There is something of a blind eye being turned to the establishment of the stations,” a senior official familiar with the issue told the Post. “Israel does not want to have to send its own forces inside, and the Palestinians are looking to extend their reach and authority. In the meantime, everyone benefits.”

The government has worked for years to curb PA attempts to gain a foothold inside Jerusalem and its neighboring villages, due to the symbolic significance of having official PA offices and armed policemen in close proximity to the Israeli capital.

The station in a-Ram – a village of some 70,000 residents – is located close to the security barrier erected to prevent terrorist infiltrations into Jerusalem. A large portion of a- Ram’s population – some estimates claim 50 percent – are in possession of blue Israeli identity cards.

Another defense official told the Post on Monday that while the Defense Ministry was aware of the existence of the police stations, it did not plan on ordering their closure and would likely approve them as part of a larger package of goodwill gestures the nation is expected to make to Abbas.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been under increasing pressure from the United States and the European Union to make gestures to Abbas as part of an effort to renew direct peace negotiations with the Palestinians. Netanyahu has resisted until now.

The country has quietly supported the bolstering of PA security forces in recent years.

So far, eight battalions trained by the United States in Jordan have deployed in the West Bank and another two are scheduled to join by the end of the year. Each battalion numbers about 500 security officers who were trained by the office of the US Security Coordinator to Israel and West Bank Lt.-Gen. Michael Moeller.


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