The Higher National Security Council, headed by President Yasir Arafat, pledged in a statement to create a committee to draft a plan to help ensure the Palestinian Authority meets security commitments under the stalled US-backed “road map.” 

Still, it defined no specific steps to improve security less than 24 hours after Palestinian gunmen killed two Israelis guarding the Apartheid wall.

In the West Bank city of Jenin, a spokesman for al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a group linked to Arafat's Fatah faction, claimed responsibility for the attack.

“These include collecting illegal weapons, banning the show of power on streets, closing down tunnels used for smuggling on the Egyptian-Palestinian border"

Senior Palestinian source 

“The Higher National Security Council has instructed Palestinian security forces to impose law and order in all firmness and to punish violators, in order to preserve the higher interests of the Palestinian people,” the statement said. 

US demands

Palestinian sources told Reuters that US officials had delivered a list of steps it wants Palestinian security forces to take to shore up the road map. 

“These include collecting illegal weapons, banning the show of power on streets, closing down tunnels used for smuggling on the Egyptian-Palestinian border and searching houses to collect illegal arms,” a senior Palestinian official said. 

In addition, the road map stipulates the Palestinian Authority must dismantle military cells spearheading a three-year-old uprising. 

Meanwhile, Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Quraya, who is expected to meet Israeli leader Ariel Sharon in coming days, has said he would not forcibly dismantle the groups. He is pursuing, along with Egypt, a ceasefire deal with them. 

Arafat, mistrusted by Israel and the United States, retained a key role over Palestinian security after a power struggle with Quraya earlier this month.