Israel's Ynet news portal revealed on Tuesday that the private British security firm Saladin Security has been hired by the European Union to train a new 80-man Palestinian police unit that will deployed in Jerusalem.
The Palestinians will essentially be trained as commandos, and will be tasked initially with protecting EU facilities on the eastern side of Jerusalem. According to the report, the unit will eventually police the streets of Arab neighborhoods in the Israeli capital, and be a model for new police units in other Palestinian towns.
EU officials said they had already applied for and received licenses from Israel for the Saladin Security instructors to carry weapons in Jerusalem.
Israeli officials deflected questions regarding the story, and EU and Saladin personnel refused to comment.
Israelis responding to the Ynet story fear this is the first sign that their government is preparing to bow to international pressure and surrender the eastern half of Jerusalem to the Palestinian Authority. Past public opinion polls showed that the vast majority of Israelis oppose dividing Jerusalem under any circumstances.