Nato, PA officials to meet in Ram Allah

A Nato military official has announced a military delegation will be meeting the Palestinian Authority on Thursday in the West Bank city of Ram Allah, marking their first high-level meeting.

Last Modified: 15 Jun 2005 22:22 GMT
Palestinian officials will meet the Nato delegation on Thursday

A Nato military official has announced a military delegation will be meeting the Palestinian Authority on Thursday in the West Bank city of Ram Allah, marking their first high-level meeting.

"Nato is not seeking any kind of active or passive role in the peace process," the official said on condition of anynomity, adding that they are not going to discuss any Nato role in the region.

Nato chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer has said he would not rule out in the future a monitoring role in a possible peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, if they asked.

De Hoop Scheffer said in remarks earlier that he had  spoken several times with Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas and had been the first Nato secretary-general to visit Israel, last Febuary. 

Meanwhile, dozens of Palestinian resistance fighters fired in the air as they rallied outside the West Bank holiday home of Prime Minister Ahmad Qurei to demand jobs in the security forces, witnesses said.

Evident tensions

Qurei was not in his Jericho villa and the resistance fighters, most of them members of the dominant Palestinian faction Fatah who took refuge in the desert city from Israeli forces during four and a half years of fighting, left after occupying the courtyard for an hour on Wednesday.

Fighters are demanding to return
to jobs they lost in the intifada

But the show of force reflected tensions in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip as the Palestinian Authority tries to restore the rule of law by reining in unruly armed factions in the hope of moving towards peace talks with Israel.

Sources in Jericho said 14 fighters were arrested by police. The Palestinian Authority did not immediately comment.

Israel plans to withdraw from Gaza in August, making the coastal strip a test case for Palestinian nation-building. The Palestinians, who also want the West Bank for a state, have pledged an orderly handover of power in Gaza.

Qurei's warning

"Chaos is not resistance [to occupation] and will not bring victory," Qurei said in a speech to university students in Nablus, another West Bank city. It was not clear if he had been informed of the Jericho incident at the time.

"Chaos can go to hell. Those who benefit from chaos can also go to hell. Starting from today the cabinet will hold itself to account. If the cabinet succeeds in imposing security and the rule of law, it will stay. If it fails, it will go home," he said.

"Chaos is not resistance [to occupation] and will not bring victory"

Ahmad Qurei,
Palestinian PM

Witnesses said the 40-odd resistance fighters who demonstrated outside Qurei's Jericho villa included former members of the Palestinian security forces who became fighters during the revolt that erupted in 2000 and now want to be reinstated in their old jobs.

They also demanded that the Palestinian Authority guarantee their safe passage to homes elsewhere in the West Bank.

Many of the armed men won de facto immunity - while in Jericho - from Israeli crackdowns as part of a ceasefire declared at an Israeli-Palestinian summit last February.

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