HEBRON, West Bank, Nov. 8 (UPI) -- The European Union has decided to expand its assistance to the fledgling Palestinian Authority police force by sending more advisers who will work with all ranks from senior commanders at West Bank and Gaza Strip headquarters down to the cop in the corner.
Seven policemen, from Germany, Austria, Finland, Spain, Sweden and Denmark, and commanded by an officer from Northern Ireland have been working with the Palestinian Authority police over the past six months, Jeanette Seppen, an adviser to the EU's Special Representative for the Peace Process, told United Press International.
The new program calls for setting up a new framework to extend more help.
The Palestinians have been suffering from chaos and lawlessness, including kidnappings and armed gang fights that defied President Mahmoud Abbas' efforts to have one law and one gun.
A public opinion poll published on Oct. 26 by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion showed that almost 65 percent of the people surveyed were worried about their personal security.
"An overwhelming majority (81.4 percent) of the Palestinians support putting an end to all forms of weapons chaos, anarchy and the multi-authority society," the PCPO reported.
In an indication of deep mistrust of the Palestinian security forces, "an overwhelming majority (82.8 percent) of the respondents support the dismissal of all heads of the security departments from their offices," PCPO added.
In Brussels, the European Union's Council Monday expressed "grave concern" over continued violence in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
It urged the Palestinian Authority "to take full control of law and order in the Occupied Territories ... (as well as) urgent action against Palestinian militants and to dismantle terrorist capabilities and infrastructure."
The aid plan has been devised in consultations with the United States, the Palestinian Authority and Israel, Seppen said.
It provides for establishing an "EU Police Mission for the Palestinian Territories," or EUPOL-COPPS, that will start working on Jan. 1, 2006.
EUPOL-COPPS will comprise some 33 unarmed personnel mainly seconded from EU countries, though several third countries will be invited to contribute, an EU report said.
The move is designed to help the Palestinian Authority "in taking responsibility for law and order, and in particular, in improving its civil police and law enforcement capacity," the report added.
The experts will advise and closely mentor the Palestinian Civil Police, and specifically senior officials at district, headquarters and at the ministerial level, the statement said.
It will "coordinate and facilitate EU Member State assistance, and -- where requested -- international assistance to the Palestinian Civil Police," and "advise on police-related Criminal Justice elements."
Seppen talked of providing also human rights training.
The advisers sent over will not have executive powers. They will not become "Palestinian police officers or replace them," said Seppen. However, they will advise at all levels "down to the traffic policeman in the street," she maintained.
The seven specialists already here are based at the Palestinian Interior and National Security headquarters in the West Bank town of Ramallah and have been in close contact with the prime minister's office and the chief of police. They have been visiting police stations and advising policemen on to better run the service, Seppen said.
So far the EU has provided communications equipment and helped improve the training center in Jericho. Spain contributed cars, motorcycles and other equipment, Seppen noted.
The expanded force is expected to work for at least three years.
Meanwhile, talks are continuing on the role EU monitors would fulfill at the Rafah Crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.
Israel and the Palestinian Authority have agreed that EU personnel will be assigned to the crossing, the only one the Palestinians will have to the outside world for the time being, but negotiations with the EU have not yet begun.
Seppen said the EU observers will not enforce the agreements Israel and the Palestinians will reach over the border crossing, but if they see a breach, they will draw the Palestinian officer's attention and if that produces no result they will then go to his superior.
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