U.S.: P.A. counterrorism is improving

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Palestinian Authority counterterrorism efforts improved but are stymied in part by insufficient Israeli cooperation, a U.S. State Department report said.

“The Palestinian Authority’s (PA) counterterrorism efforts improved in 2008, with Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s government engaged in efforts to control terrorist groups, particularly Hamas,” said the Country Reports on Terrorism 2008, released Thursday.

It noted that the situation was “much worse” in the Gaza Strip, where Hamas terrorists are in control, than in the West Bank, where the Palestinian Authority is responsible for security among Palestinians.

“In the West Bank, PA security forces (PASF) followed up on efforts to establish law and order and fight terrorist cells with security deployments to Jenin, Bethlehem, and Hebron,” it said. “All observers, including Israeli security officials, credited PASF with significant security improvements across the West Bank.”

It said cooperation between Palestinian forces and the Israel Defense Forces had “improved” but added that Palestinian effectiveness had been “hindered by a lack of resources, unclear chain-of-command, and IDF-imposed restrictions on their movement, equipment, and operations. PASF officials frequently raised concerns about operational difficulties due to IDF restrictions on PASF movements.”

The overall report noted a decrease in terrorist attacks in Israel, adding: “Israeli security officials maintained that the decrease was not for lack of terrorists’ efforts, but because the security services were able to keep terrorist planners and operators off balance and foil acts before they were carried out.”

The report’s section on state-sponsored terror said Iran remained its “most active” sponsor.

“Iran’s involvement in the planning and financial support of terrorist attacks throughout the Middle East, Europe, and Central Asia had a direct impact on international efforts to promote peace, threatened economic stability in the Gulf, and undermined the growth of democracy,” it said.

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