U.S. officials will soon need more money to fund Palestinian Authority security training.
The officials told JTA that the training so far looks successful, although the first class of about 1,100 fighters will not be deployed until June.
Congress earmarked $59 million in funds for the training last year from Congress, but the sum increased to $86 million by the time training started in earnest last fall.
U.S. officials told JTA that another $25 million would be needed by the summer to maintain the program, which they said is critical. Their theory is that a trained Palestinian force will help moderates resist extremist challenges and create stability, thus facilitating peace talks.
In photos of the training camp in Jordan shown to JTA, the Palestinian troops are marching in formation and training in riot control and defensive shooting. The officials said morale was high among the troops, who are learning teamwork and working under a single command.
The effectiveness of Palestinian security forces in the past has been hampered by a lack of discipline and loyalties to competing commanders.
The training is three-pronged: training the fighters, creating a strategic planning unit and refurbishing facilities in the West Bank so the Palestinians may train themselves. U.S. officials draw up the training programs, but other nations supply the trainers and the arms. Israel is helping to facilitate the training.