Mahmoud Abbas

JERUSALEM – Emergency finances the U.S. plans to transfer to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party will be used in large part to purchase “equipment” and provide military training for Fatah militias in the West Bank, a senior Palestinian diplomat told WND.

The official didn’t specify whether the “equipment” the U.S. will fund includes weapons.

The information comes after Hamas last week took over U.S.-backed Palestinian security compounds in the Gaza Strip and seized large quantities of American weaponry provided to Fatah in recent years.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced today the U.S. will resume “full assistance to the Palestinian government,” lifting an economic and political embargo against the Palestinian government enacted after Hamas came to power in March 2006.

Rice said she will ask Congress to rework a previous $86 million aid package to Abbas that was lowered following concerns by some lawmakers some of the money would end up financing terrorism. Congress in April only approved about $59 million of the aid package and stipulated the money cannot be used to purchase weapons. Rice intends to request Congress now grant the full $86 million.

Rice also said the U.S. would contribute an additional $40 million to the United Nations to help Palestinians, particularly in the Gaza Strip, which is now controlled by Hamas.

According to Palestinian and Israeli diplomatic sources, the bulk of the $86 million is slated to be used to fund Force 17, which serve as de facto police units in the West Bank and previously, in the Hamas-seized Gaza Strip.

Many members of Force 17 are also openly members of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terror group, which took responsibility together with Islamic Jihad for every suicide bombing in Israel the last two years.

A Palestinian diplomatic source told WND the PA wants to use some of the money “to purchase equipment to help secure the Palestinian Authority against coups by other competing groups attempting to hijack our government.”

The source would not specify whether the equipment the PA wants to purchase includes weapons, which would be in breach of the previous ruling from Congress that Rice has now asked to be reworked.

The source said the U.S. money will also be used to quickly train Force 17 militia members. American security personnel use a base in the West Bank city of Jericho to train Fatah fighters, but the diplomatic source said the bulk of training will take place at bases in Jordan, fearing Hamas attacks against the Jericho base.

The source also said Abbas expressed “extreme dissatisfaction” with Keith Dayton, the U.S. security coordinator in the West Bank and Gaza. The source said the U.S. pledged to replace Dayton in the “near future.”

Also today the European Union announced it will back Abbas with direct financial aid while continuing an economic boycott of Hamas. The EU is the largest donor to the Palestinians, providing $940 million in 2006. EU officials didn’t specify the amount they would grant Abbas, explaining they were waiting to assess his government’s needs.

In addition, Israeli diplomatic sources told WND the Jewish state is “very seriously contemplating” releasing $562 million in tax revenue Israel froze after Hamas came to power, fearing the money would be used to fund terror. Israel collects tax money on the PA’s behalf.

The flood of emergency aid to Abbas follows the PA president’s dismantling of the Hamas-led government last week after Hamas staged a coup in Gaza and completely took over Fatah compounds and positions in the territory. Abbas unilaterally dissolved the Palestinian government and held a swearing-in ceremony yesterday for a handpicked emergency cabinet, outlawing Hamas in the West Bank.

Hamas won the majority of parliament seats in the last Palestinian elections, but as PA president, Abbas has the legal authority to dismantle the government and install a new leadership for up to 90 days in an emergency capacity. Abbas can extend the rule of the so-called emergency government indefinitely, according to Palestinian government rules.

Abbas appointed a new prime minister, former Finance Minister Salam Fayyad, who is respected by the international community.

Analysts here questioned whether Abbas possesses the political and military strength to carry through with forging a new government.

Hamas, which now controls Gaza, called Abbas’ decision to dismantle the government “illegitimate.”

“Abbas cannot make such a move without coordinating with us,” said Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, speaking after Muslim Friday prayers in Gaza City. “I still affirm that the road is open and wide to reformulating these relations on a firm nationalistic basis.”

President Bush today phoned Abbas to express approval for his move to dismantle the PA government.

Abbas, whose forces were crushed last week in Gaza, reportedly told Bush he has the capital to engage in negotiations with Israel.

“Abbas told Mr. Bush that this is the time to resume the political negotiations and to revive the hope of the Palestinian people,” said Abbas aide Nabil Abu Rudeineh, who sat with Abbas during the phone call.

Hamas: We seized U.S. weapons, CIA docs

Reports the U.S. will send more aide to Fatah come after Hamas took complete control of Fatah security compounds containing American weapons and, according to Hamas members, U.S. intelligence documents.

The U.S. in the past year has given large quantities of weapons to bolster Fatah in clashes against Hamas. Hamas officials repeatedly told WND they would seize any American weaponry provided to Fatah in Gaza.

Hamas’ Al Aqsa Television last week broadcast footage of Hamas gunmen brandishing American assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, rocket launchers and ammunition the U.S. reportedly provided to Fatah over the past few months. Hamas fighters also showed what they said were 10 American-provided armored personnel carriers the terror group said it seized from U.S.-backed Fatah security compounds it took over Tuesday.

Abu Abdullah, a senior member of Hamas’ so-called military wing, commented, “We informed you many times we would obtain all American arms brought to Gaza in the conspiracy against our government.”

Hamas last Friday gained control of Fatah’s Ansar complex, where most American weapons were delivered and stored, and Abbas’ presidential guard complex.

Abdullah said Hamas is now “swimming” in American weapons.

“We have no worries about running out of weapons or ammunition thanks to your American government,” Abdullah told WND today.

Last week, WND broke the story that terrorist groups, including Hamas and the Popular Resistance Committees, claim they seized large quantities of CIA security files stored at major Fatah compounds.

Terror leaders speaking to WND claimed the files contain, among other information, details of CIA networks in the Middle East.

“The CIA files we seized, which include documents, CDs, taped conversations and videos, are more important than all the American weapons we obtained the last two days as we took over the traitor Fatah’s positions,” said Muhammad Abdel-El, spokesman for the Hamas-allied Popular Resistance Committees terror group.

The Committees has been accused of carrying out anti-U.S. attacks, including a 2003 bombing of an American convoy in Gaza that killed three U.S. contractors.

Hamas and Popular Resistance Committees leaders told WND upon taking over Gaza City’s Fatah compounds, particularly the Preventative Security Services building and intelligence compound, they seized the purported CIA files and that prior to Hamas’ advances, Fatah officials attempted to destroy the CIA files but only succeeded in eliminating some.

U.S. security coordinators the past few years maintained a presence at Fatah’s Gaza headquarters.

Hamas’ Abu Abdullah said, “Now our job is to study these files, which are already showing that they are crucial for our fight against the Zionists and anyone who collaborates with them, including the Americans.”

Abdullah said the CIA documents they browsed so far contain “information about the collaboration between Fatah and the Israeli and American security organizations; CIA methods on how to prevent attacks, chase and follow after cells of Hamas and the Committees; plans about Fatah assassinations of members of Hamas and other organizations; and American studies on the security situation in Gaza.”

Abdullah claimed the documents also detailed CIA networks in other Arab countries and “how to help beat Islamic allies of Hamas in other Arab countries, including Egypt and Jordan.”

“We will use these documents and make portions public to prove the collaboration between America and traitor Arab countries,” Abdullah said.

Committees spokesman Abdel El told WND he was sitting in a Gaza mosque pouring through some of the files on the Committees when he found his name mentioned in the documents four times.

“I am amazed by the material and the context of the documents,” he said.

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