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Palestinians Discuss Police Force As First Step Toward Autonomy

A Palestinian delegation, headed by Faisal Husseini, has reportedly discussed with Jordanian officials the possibility of establishing a 20,000-member police force as one of the first steps toward creating Palestinian autonomy.

According to an agreement in principle between the Palestinians and senior Jordanian security officials, the proposed police force would undergo a three-month training course in Jordan before leaving for the territories. It would include only Palestinians, mostly supporters of the Palestine Liberation Organization. No other residents of Jordan, such as Bedouins, would be included.

This is the first instance of Palestinian-Jordanian coordination in planning for Palestinian autonomy.

The agreement leaves open many questions such as what arms the policemen would be entitled to use; what their powers would be; and what their connections with the Tunis headquarters of the PLO would be.

Also unclear is the force’s proposed relationship with the Israeli police and military authorities, with whom the Palestinians have not even begun discussing the plan.

The Hamas Moslem fundamentalist organization is also likely to oppose the proposal.

The Jordanians have reportedly demanded a veto over the selection of the policemen, but this, too, remains a controversial issue.

Several months ago, Husseini appointed Palestinian activist Sari Nusseibeh to coordinate preparatory work for autonomy. The proposed police force captured a high place on Husseini and Nusseibeh’s agenda.

The police planning committee reportedly met in the past few weeks with Arabs who had previously served with the Israeli police. Among them were officers who had resigned from the police force in the territories at the early stages of the intifada.

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