debkafile: US Consul-General in Jerusalem outlines all-out effort to boost Mahmoud Abbas, blames Hamas for the Palestinian people’s suffering
Meeting Palestinian correspondents Wednesday, after the breakdown of the Qatari mediation effort for a unity government, Jack Wallace accused Hamas of aborting Israel’s release of Palestinian prisoners for Ramadan by its kidnap of the Israeli soldier Gideon Shalit in June. He said the US was investing in the expansion, equipment and training of Mahmoud Abbas’s presidential guard for the tasks of fortifying his leadership and manning Palestinian border crossings between Gaza, Egypt and Israel.
debkafile‘s military sources add: On the advice of US Lt.-Gen Keith Dayton, the Bush administration is investing $10 million to expand Yasser Arafat’s old Force 17 from 3,500 to 6,500 men and equip them with arms, a fleet of vehicles – some armored – and communications systems. The Americans have also hired Palestinian contractors to upgrade the Palestinian Jericho facility as a central training base and the Palestinian Authority’s most modern military installation. Training and living conditions will be on a par with Israel’s special operations forces’ installations. Palestinian security officers will act as instructors under the guidance of British military personnel.