[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 21 November 2005, 15:34 GMT
EU to support Palestinian police
Palestinian police
Israel is keeping a close watch on the Palestinian police
EU foreign ministers have approved a European police mission to monitor the Egypt-Gaza Strip border crossing.

The EU is to provide about 70 people to advise Palestinian border staff, with up to 20 set to be in place for the crossing's scheduled opening on Friday.

It will be the EU's first major role on the ground in the Middle East.

Israel agreed last week to allow Palestinians to control the border crossing at Rafah, after Israeli troops and settlers pulled out of Gaza.

A statement by EU foreign ministers said the decision to approve the border mission had been passed as "a matter of urgency".

Customs checkpoint

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said he expected an advance contingent of the border mission to arrive "on time" for the planned opening of the Rafah crossing point with Egypt.

Their presence will allow an initial part-time opening of the crossing for 500 people a day from Friday.

The remaining monitors will be deployed over the next few weeks, EU officials said.

The EU experts are to advise the Palestinians on how to manage and finance the police force, but will not take part in street patrols.

They will also train Palestinian forces on the operation of a professional customs checkpoint.

The mission will be led by the Italian police's Maj Gen Piero Pistolese and include police officers from Germany, Spain and other EU nations.

A study in July 2005 by the independent Strategic Assessments Initiative concluded that the Palestinian Authority's security forces were weak, ill-equipped and divided.

Israel and the Palestinians



Palestinian women sit on a roof top of the home of a Palestinian family in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip on 20 November 2006. Human shields
Palestinians adopt a new tactic to deter Israeli attacks, but this is a high-risk strategy




The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific