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Tuesday, 4 June, 2002, 20:13 GMT 21:13 UK
Arafat to streamline security forces
Palestinian police
Numbers of Palestinian police could be halved
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has agreed sweeping reforms of his complicated security apparatus to provide a clear chain of command.

The failure of Palestinian forces to prevent suicide attacks on Israelis was a key feature of talks on Tuesday between Mr Arafat and the director of the US Central Intelligence Agency, George Tenet.

CIA director George Tenet
George Tenet wants a more unified structure for Palestinian security forces
Separately, Israel confirmed it had plans to fence off about one-third of the West Bank to close down routes used by suicide bombers towards targeted cities.

Israel also continued its series of military operations in Palestinian areas of the West Bank, and a youth was killed by troops chasing a stone-throwing gang in Hebron.

Mr Tenet's meeting with Mr Arafat on how to improve the operation of the Palestinian security forces is part of renewed American efforts to broker peace in the Middle East.

Washington announced that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon would meet US President George W Bush next week, a day after Mr Bush holds talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who has himself come up with new proposals for peace.

Tenet's taskDuring Tuesday's talks, Mr Arafat presented a plan said to include halving the number of agencies and improving supervision.

Mr Tenet - who was in the Middle East last year in an earlier attempt to find an end to the violence - wants to see a more unified structure with a clear chain of command in control of the Palestinian police.

Correspondents say he must convince both the Israeli and Palestinian authorities that the security reforms represent their best interests.

The Palestinian Authority says it is committed to reform, and Mr Arafat has pledged to hold elections soon.

But Mr Sharon has expressed his doubts that reforms are possible while Mr Arafat remains in overall control.

Fence plan

Mr Sharon has reluctantly approved plans for construction of a fence along part of the so-called Green Line that divides Israel from the West Bank.

Map of Israel and the West Bank showing a proposed fence
Parts of the fence will cross into previously Palestinian-controlled areas
The 110 kilometre (68 mile) barrier - which will cut into the West Bank, appropriating at least 77 square km of Palestinian land - is designed to separate Jenin, Tulkarm and Qalqilya from nearby Israeli cities.

There have been recent attacks where suicide bombers have set out from the West Bank towns, intending to kill citizens in the Israeli areas.

Some Israelis oppose the building of the fence - which is said to have begun in some areas - because it might be interpreted as the establishment of a border which could in turn lead to a Palestinian state.

Raids ongoing

Israel has also continued its military operations in Palestinian towns, imposing a curfew in Hebron and a brief incursion into Jenin.

Occupation of Nablus continued for a fifth day and in the village of Beit Ummar, near Hebron, troops killed Palestinian Murad Jama al-Qam, aged 16.

The Israelis say the violence escalated after Palestinians threw stones at an Israeli truck, causing it to crash.

The Israeli army has raided Palestinian-ruled areas on an almost daily basis in recent weeks following a spate of Palestinian suicide bombings.

The BBC's Matt Prodger
"Mr Arafat gave George Tenet a plan to reform Palestinian security forces"

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See also:

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