JERUSALEM – The Palestinian security chief is seeking $250 million from international donors to equip Palestinian officers and rebuild police posts destroyed by Israeli forces.
A key element of a new U.S.-backed peace plan calls for rebuilt and strengthened Palestinian security forces to dismantle the militant groups that have launched hundreds of suicide bombings and other attacks against Israeli targets during nearly three years of fighting.
Security chief Mohammed Dahlan (search) said the rebuilding will take three years, according to a statement released late Friday by the Palestinian Interior Ministry.
Palestinians have refused to confront militants, like the powerful Islamic groups Hamas (search) and Islamic Jihad (search), arguing that their police forces are too weak and that such a showdown could spark a civil war.
Instead, the Palestinians are trying to persuade militants — who declared a temporary cease-fire on June 29 — to end their attacks on Israelis and turn in weapons.
Dahlan said in the statement that the police have 150 new patrol cars and work is underway to double the current monthly police budget of $1 million. About $25 million is being put into building command and operations centers and $22 million is being spent on computer equipment.
Soon after fighting broke out in September of 2000, Israel sent warplanes and helicopter gunships to level police posts and security headquarters in the West Bank (search) and Gaza Strip (search), arguing that the Palestinian police forces were involved in some attacks on Israelis and doing nothing to stop them.
The two-month-old "road map" peace plan, pushed hard by the United States, calls on Israel to withdraw forces from Palestinian areas in the West Bank and Gaza and for Palestinian police to take control of those areas and stop terrorist activity.