RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s administration said on Wednesday it had resumed security coordination with Israel in the occupied West Bank, frozen in July, and sought sole security control of the Gaza Strip, where Hamas Islamist forces dominate.
The remarks, by the Palestinian police chief, left open the question of how Abbas might bring his former rivals in Hamas to heel given their refusal to disarm as demanded by Israel and the United States.
An Egyptian-brokered reconciliation deal last month formally restored Abbas’s administrative control of Gaza after a 10-year schism with Hamas, though the details of implementation have yet to be worked out fully.
Palestinians hope the pact will ease Gaza’s economic woes and help present a united front in their drive for statehood.
The vision includes the West Bank, where Palestinian security forces have tried to tamp down violence, often sharing intelligence and cooperating across jurisdictions with Israel, despite a three-year impasse in diplomacy between the sides.
Under interim peace deals with Israel, Abbas’ Palestinian Authority exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank.
Abbas halted security coordination with Israel on July 21, demanding it remove metal detectors it had installed outside a Jerusalem compound housing Al-Aqsa mosque in response to the killing of two of its police guards by gunmen holed up there.
Amid Palestinian and Jordanian unrest, and U.S. mediation efforts, Israel dismantled the walk-through gates within days and said it would install less obtrusive security measures.
Police chief Hazem Attallah told foreign reporters in a briefing that the suspension of ties had ended two weeks ago.
“Security coordination between Palestinian and Israeli services have resumed as it used to be before it stopped,” Attallah said, adding that he was referring to joint efforts to prevent militant attacks, as crime-fighting police cooperation between the sides had never stopped.
Attallah said his police forces were ready to impose order in Gaza, likening the situation there to the West Bank a decade ago, where the Palestinian Authority set about disarming and dismantling Hamas and other armed factions.
“We will have ‘one gun’ in Gaza,” Attallah said. “How can I do security when there are all these rockets and guns? This is possible? This doesn’t work.”
In Gaza, Hamas has a guerrilla army believed to include tens of thousands of fighters and rockets.
Hamas continues to police Gaza with nearly 13,000 security personnel. Fatah plans to discuss security responsibility further in talks with Hamas and other factions in Cairo on November 21.
Additional reporting by Nidal Almughrabi; Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Gareth Jones