Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Wednesday confirmed that he had approved the transfer of new military equipment, including 600 armored vehicles, to Palestinian Authority forces operating in Judea and Samaria (the so-called "West Bank).
Speaking to reporters in Tel Aviv ahead of a meeting with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salaam Fayad, Mr. Barak said he had also agreed to ease travel restrictions placed on the Palestinian Arabs to hinder terrorist infiltrations.
Earlier this week, Barak signed off on the deployment of Palestinian Authority troops in and around the northern Samaria terrorist hub of Jenin, and the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the area.
The latest gestures by Israel's defense establishment come just days after US officials in the region to monitor Israeli and Palestinian compliance with peace obligations concluded that the Palestinian Authority is making little or no effort to combat anti-Israel terrorism.
The monitoring team, headed by General William Fraser, faulted Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas for only truly going after extremists when they were threatening his rule, and said that he had opted to merely "contain" anti-Israel terrorism to the extent necessary to avoid international pressure.
Israeli opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu called attention to the discrepancy between the PA's promises and its actions during a speech at a conference at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs on Wednesday, and insisted that Israel must stop viewing the purportedly "moderate" Abbas as a "subcontractor for our defense."
"The idea of entrusting the PA with our security has failed in the past in Gaza and it will also fail in Judea and Samaria," Netanyahu said at a conference at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. "The notion that we will provide the PA with weapons in its present state and believe that those weapons will protect us is a nonsensical one."
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