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Force 17 members
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Abbas
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Abbas to dismantle Force 17
Plan to incorporate elite unit into Presidential Guard part of comprehensive reorganization of PA security bodies

A Palestinian security official told Ynet Monday that in the coming days President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to order the dismantling of Force 17 and its incorporation into the Presidential Guard.

 

The status of Force 17, which served as Fatah's special operations unit in the 1970s and '80s and was responsible for the protection of Palestinian Liberation Organization chairman Yasser Arafat, declined following the establishment of the Palestinian Authority and the formation of the Presidential Guard.

 

However, with the recent eruption of violence between Hamas and Fatah, Force 17 members took part in numerous operations against the Islamist group's forces in Gaza and the West Bank.

 


Force 17 members in training (Archive photo: AP)

 

According to the Palestinian official, military equipment belonging to Force 17 members has already been transferred to the Presidential Guard.

 

The plan to incorporate Force 17 into the Presidential Guard is part of the comprehensive reorganization conducted recently within the PA's security bodies, in accordance with the agreements reached with Israel and the work plan drafted by the US.

 

The plan calls on the Authority to cut the number of its security bodies from 13 to three - a demand raised by Israel and the Americans a short while after the intifada erupted with the aim of centralizing the Palestinian security bodies.

 

The plan to consolidate the Palestinian security forces was repeatedly thwarted by Arafat, who preferred to control a larger number of decentralized forces.

 

The Palestinians said they hope progress in the security plan would pave the way for the transfer of Palestinian cities in the West Bank to PA control.

 

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