WASHINGTON (AFP) – The Palestinian Authority”s performance on security has been "far from satisfactory," a senior State Department officials said, while underscoring the "very real challenges" facing the Palestinian leadership.
"The events of the past few days undersore the very real challenges facing the Palestinian Authority as it takes on new responsibilities for governance. First and foremost is the task of security," David Welch, assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs, told a Congressional hearing.
"Although President Mahmud Abbas has taken some steps to assert control, overall Palestinian Authority performance to date has been far from satisfactory," he said.
"The PA must move quickly to establish order and take steps to dismantle the infrastructure of terror. Regional states such as Syria and Iran must cease their support for extremist Palestinian organizations which stand in the way of peace. And progress must continue on the critical task of reforming the PA security services under a unified, civilian command," he said.
The diplomat stressed the importance of Palestinian economic development in the eyes of the so-called international "quartet" — the European Union, United States, Russia and the United Nations — seeking to broker Middle East peace.
"All these matters must be addressed of course with careful attention to the balance that must be struck between freeing up the Palestinian economy and addressing Israel”s legitimate security needs," he said.
Palestinian prime minister Ahmed Qorei acknowledged Tuesday that the security situation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip "is very serious."
"As long as I am prime minister I assume full responsibility although my job does not give me direct security control," he said, less than a week before MPs are to debate and vote on a no-confidence motion blaming him and his administration for failing to adequately counter the chaos gripping parts of the Palestinian territories.