Speaking to reporters at an Israeli army base in the West Bank, Ehud Barak said he would discuss the issue with Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian prime minister, at a meeting on Wednesday.

Al Jazeera understands that the Palestinians had planned to send some police officers, who were trained as part of a US-funded programme, to Jenin and Bethlehem.

Officers trained in Jordan have already been deployed in Nablus where they have been credited with good results against criminals but less success against the armed groups.

Balata incursion

Barak's statement came as the Israeli military moved into the Balata refugee camp in the West Bank to arrest a Palestinian suspect. Local youths threw stones at the soldiers during the incursion.

Israel conducts frequent military raids against Palestinian fighters in Jenin and the surrounding area. But local security officials say that they have largely restored calm in the town with around 2,000 officers.

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"We didn't apply for more forces in Jenin. We have enough," Diab al-Ali, a senior Palestinian security commander in the West Bank, told the Associated Press.

"The only demand we have for Jenin is that Israel hand the city over to us."

Barak also said he was considering other measures to bolster the Palestinians and improve the negotiating climate.

"We're considering a series of steps that won't hurt security," he said. Among them are allowing Palestinian forces to obtain additional vehicles and "non-lethal" weapons, such as rubber bullets, and helping Palestinian businessmen move freely between the West Bank and Israel.

However, Barak has made similar pledges in the past without taking action and on Monday, he rejected a key Palestinian demand, saying he would not remove any of the hundreds of Israeli military checkpoints in the West Bank.