Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has brought a top security commander out of retirement, in part to curb a planned Hamas troop buildup in the West Bank, officials said Saturday.
Abbas also held meetings with representatives of all factions to update them on current developments, against the backdrop of intensive training, under American auspices, of the presidential guard, known as Force 17.
The president officially appointed Haj Ismail Jaber, who had served for years as the commander of the national security force in the West Bank, to the Palestinian Authority's defense high level.
A Fatah source told Ynet that Haj Ismail's reinstatement was motivated by Abbas' desire to placate Fatah veterans, who are unpleased with the president's handling of the crisis with Hamas. Last week, for example, a meeting of Fatah's executive committee, set to be held in Amman, was called off due to disagreements between Abbas and the committee members.
Meanwhile, Palestinian sources reported that Hamas is completing in recent days the establishment of its military force in the West Bank, and also plans to found a special armed governmental force.
Khaled Mashaal, head of the group's politburo, is personally overseeing the establishment of Hamas' military wing in the West Bank. According to a movement official, Hamas has transferred 600 weapons to its men in the West Bank in the last few weeks, and sources estimate that the number is continuously growing.
Hamas' rally in Qalqilya Friday, which included hundreds of gunmen carrying personal and automatic arms, served as a show of force aimed at illustrating the organization's strength. The rally, the first display of arms by the movement in the last three years, may serve as an indication that Hamas and its government are trying to form an official security force that will be subordinate to the government and the group.
Hussein al-Sheikh, one of Fatah's leaders in the West bank, has already stressed that his movement would not allow such a force to be established.