WASHINGTON (JTA) — Israel’s army praised the job Palestinian security forces have been doing in the West Bank.
In a conference call sponsored by The Israel Project, Israel Defense Forces’ spokeswoman Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich said that Israel is seeing "a new phenomenon — Palestinian security forces are taking responsibility for what is going on in their own cities."
"We do see results," said Leibovich, head of the international media and comunications branch of the IDF spokespersons unit, speaking of the security forces trained by U.S. Lt.-Col. Keith Dayton. "There’s a very impressive number of arrests made by the Palestinians themselves. We do see the crime rate down overall."
Leibovich went on to say that the increased "stability," which has also been helped by the building of the security fence, has led to a corresponding improvement in the economic situation in the Palestinian territories.
Last month, the IDF said it had agreed that Palestinian forces would now be permitted to operate 24 hours a day in four large Palestinian cities — Kalkilya, Ramallah, Jericho and Bethlehem.
Leibovich also noted that the IDF had removed more than 140 roadblocks and checkpoints in the West Bank in the last year, including reducing the number of "manned internal crossings" in the area from 35 to 14 in the past two years.
She stressed that the removal of checkpoints "improve the quality of life for Palestinians" and "will not hurt Israel’s security."
"If we find a new security threat," Leibovich said, "we will act accordingly."