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CIA set to oversee the PA-Israel security cooperation (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Aluf Benn 01/30/05)Source: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/533491.html HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
The Central Intelligence Agency is set to resume its role in security coordination between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in an effort to stabilize the situation in the territories, senior officials said yesterday.

The Bush administration has been eager to establish a mechanism that will prevent the escalation of sporadic violent incidents into yet another total conflagration between the two sides.

More specifically, the U.S. is concerned about an extreme Israeli reaction to acts of Palestinian violence that are initiated by groups interested in undermining the diplomatic process.

As such, U.S. officials would like to see a stabilization on the ground at this critical juncture, when terrorist acts are at a minimum, and find ways of neutralizing the effect of any possible terrorist attacks.

This the Americans believe can be done through the revival of a tripartite consultative group, headed by officials of the CIA in the area, and including Israeli and Palestinian security officials.

CIA chief Porter Goss and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley discussed the matter with Shin Bet head Avi Dichter when he visited the American capital.

Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom had similar talks in his meetings with Hadley, and the same message was brought by outgoing State Department chief of the Middle East section, William Burns, in talks in Jerusalem.

However, during weekend deliberations at the Defense Ministry, no enthusiasm was expressed at the possibility of a revived three-way security coordination mechanism.

The tripartite security coordination meetings were set up as a result of the 1998 Wye Accord and collapsed at the start of the intifada in late September 2000.

Nonetheless, the conclusion of the discussions at the Defense Ministry suggest that if the U.S. is keen to revive the mechanism and asks Israel to participate, there is no possibility that Jerusalem can refuse.

Sources say it is not clear whether the Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas will be interested in cooperating with the United States in matters of security.

In their talks with senior American officials, Israel took the stance that any progress on the issue will depend on the effort undertaken by the PA in preventing terrorism, and in dealing with perpetrators of terrorist acts and punishing them.

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and senior Palestinian Authority security official Mohammed Dahlan met late last night in an effort to achieve further progress on matters of security coordination.

The two men concentrated on the sensitive security situation in the West Bank and sources close to the talks said that the possibility exists that Israel will transfer security responsibility of major towns to the PA in a week.

The Mofaz-Dahlan meeting was also part of paving the way for the meeting between Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, scheduled for the second week of February. (© Copyright 2005 Haaretz. 01/30/05)

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