The Israeli government has announced plans to hand the Palestinian Authority (PA) 700 firearms ahead of US President, Barack Obama’s upcoming visit, Israeli Radio said on Wednesday.
The firearms are to be handed over to the PA in a bid to enhance its control over cities in the West Bank following the recent popular uprising set off by Israeli violations against Palestinian prisoner rights.
Israeli Radio reported sources in the Israeli Ministerial Council as saying that Israel is discussing the issue with the US state department. “The aim is to boost the PA security service against law breakers and terrorists,” the sources said.
According to the radio station, “handing weapons to the PA is a measure in line with other confidence-rebuilding measures to be taken by Israel.” These measures, the radio reported, were agreed upon between Palestinian and Israeli officials in the presence of the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, in Washington last week.
Palestinian and Israeli media reported that lead Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, visited Washington last week to conduct discussions over Obama’s visit to the region.
Recently, Palestinians in the West Bank began an uprising against Israeli violations of Palestinian prisoner rights. The uprising was sparked by the death of the Palestinian prisoner, Arafat Jaradat, in Israel’s custody two weeks ago. Israel said that Jaradat died of a heart attack, while Palestinian autopsy reports found that he had been tortured to death.