WASHINGTON - The United States will continue financing the Palestinian Authority's presidential guard, which is loyal to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, despite the force's disappointing performance in the Gaza Strip, officials in Washington said.
According to a US State Department spokesperson, General Keith Dayton, who is responsible for training the Palestinian forces, will continue his work after a reassessment of the situation. The training will likely be transferred from Gaza to the West Bank, the spokesperson said.
Dayton heads the training program for Abbas' security staff, which protects the Palestinian top brass as well as strategic sites in Gaza and various border crossings.
Although Dayton praised the performance of the forces just a few weeks ago, the troops failed to stand up to Hamas forces in the past few days as they seized control in Gaza.
"I think what we're going to need to do is take a look at where we are with the new situation in Gaza, a new balance of forces within Gaza in which Hamas and its 'military wing' is in control of most of the land mass there," the State Department spokesperson said.
"In the days and weeks ahead that we're going to take a look at that to see how to proceed with the security assistance program, how Keith Dayton is going to continue working with the Palestinians. I believe that he has every intention and that we have every intention of his continuing his work with the Palestinians.
"Nobody's going to abandon the Palestinian people to the mercies of a terrorist organization and the most extreme elements of the terrorist organization. We're certainly not going to participate in this extinguishing the hopes of a whole swath of the Palestinian population to live in a Palestinian state," he added.