Palestinians demand regular army for new state
Published: 05.19.08, 01:14 / Israel News
Despite previous understandings that a future Palestinian state would be demilitarized, Ynet has learned that in talks held behind closed doors, the top negotiator for the Palestinian Authority, Ahmed Qureia, is demanding the establishment of a regular army.
High-level Israeli and Palestinian officials confirmed the newly revealed developments on Monday night.
According to the information obtained by Ynet, the new and surprising demand first emerged as the negotiations teams sat down in Jerusalem last Sunday to discuss security arrangements. Qureia told Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni that the Palestinian state would require a regular army to defend itself.
Livni, though perplexed by the sudden demand, made clear that all previous accords specifically spoke of a demilitarized Palestinian state. A senior Israeli source said that Livni sought to clarify if perhaps Qureia had meant a Palestinian police force, but the latter was reiterated that it was a proper regular army the PA was after.
The source added that the new Palestinian stipulation incensed Livni, who ardently rejects the idea of such an army.
A very senior Palestinian source close to Qureia confirmed the exchange. "At the meeting in question we raised the demand for a regular army, meant to defend the independent state," he told Ynet.
"This isn't an army intended to launch an attack against Israel. We are not asking for F-16 jets but rather a force that would be able to defend the nation from threat and realize its basic right to exist in security."
The source said the situation had changed greatly since the days of the Oslo Accords in 1993. "Oslo spoke of an intermediary entity. Now we are talking about a Palestinian state born out of a permanent agreement. There is no clause in any of the understandings that denies the Palestinian state an army to defend itself with, to defend its borders and citizens with," he said.