Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has issued a ban on carrying illegal guns and explosives. The decree is his response to pressure to crack down on armed militants after the weekend’s four-way summit at Sharm el-Sheikh. Israel particularly wants Abbas to do more to rein in militants and has been considering providing his forces with extra weapons. Representatives of the Quartet of Middle East peace negotiators have met in Jerusalem for the first time since the Palestinian territories split.
At a later meeting, the Quartet’s US representative David Welch assured Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad that aid would now be forthcoming. “The United States will be looking for new ways to work with the Palestinian Authority now that there is a government that respects the principles that we do,” he said.
In Tel Aviv, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that while the Palestinian split was an obstacle to peace, Moscow backed the Palestinian President. “We support Mahmoud Abbas. Firstly, we support his decisions taken in line with the Palestinian constitution and we would certainly support further development of this process,” he said.
Israeli officials say Abbas has asked permission to bring Fatah’s highly-trained Badr Brigade from their base in Jordan to the West Bank to shore up his authority. Officials in Ramallah would not comment on the claims but Israel said the deployment was under consideration.