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PA bans Palestinians from carrying "unlicensed" weapons (JERUSALEM POST) By KHALED ABU TOAMEH 01/27/05 23:31)Source: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1106848122577 JERUSALEM POST JERUSALEM POST Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
Citing a sharp rise in crime and lawlessness in Palestinian Authority- controlled areas, the PA on Thursday issued an order banning Palestinians from carrying "unlicensed" weapons.

Similar orders had been issued by the PA on numerous occasions in the past, but were never implemented.

Thursday´s order was issued by PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei in his capacity as chairman of the National Security Council, a body that consists of commanders of all the security forces and a number of top PA officials.

However, the new order did not specify whether the PA security forces would also be asked to disarm Hamas and other armed groups.

Qurei also decided to ban off-duty policemen from carrying weapons following complaints that some had been involved in criminal activities.

At the meeting of the National Security Council here, a decision was also taken to retire more than 1,000 security officers in order to pave the way for incorporating younger policemen in the PA security establishment.

The latest decisions underscore PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas´s determination to put an end to the state of chaos and lawlessness prevalent in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Abbas left Ramallah on Thursday for a tour that would take him to a number of Arab and European countries to seek backing for his new administration´s policies.

Also on Thursday, Abbas instructed the PA´s mufti to look into the cases of 51 Palestinians who had been sentenced to death for their involvement in murder and a variety of crimes.

The executions cannot take place without the approval of the mufti and the chairman of the PA. Fatah leader Abbas Zaki said the decision to refer the cases to the mufti meant that the executions could take place as early as next month.

Among those on the death row are several Palestinians convicted of "collaboration" with Israel.

Zaki explained that the decision was needed to restore Palestinians´ confidence in their fledgling judicial system and to protect them against an unprecedented upsurge in crime.

Sources in Ramallah said Abbas and Qurei agreed to appoint former security chief Nasser Yousef as interior minister in charge of all the PA security forces. Yousef, who will replace incumbent interior minister Hakam Balawi, played a key role in a massive crackdown on Hamas and Islamic Jihad members in the Gaza Strip in 1996.

Both Abbas and Qurei had in the past tried to bring Yousef into their cabinets, but were turned down by Yasser Arafat.

Former security minister Mohammed Dahlan, who is also expected to play a key role in the new PA cabinet, told reporters that he would meet with Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz soon.

Dahlan said the meeting would discuss the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israel and handing control of West Bank cities to the PA.

"President Abbas and Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei had given clear orders to the heads of the security forces to prepare for taking over security in five West Bank cities - Qalqilya, Ramallah, Tulkarem, Bethlehem and Jericho," he said. (© 1995-2005, The Jerusalem Post 01/27/05)

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