A senior West Bank police official called on the European Union on Friday to continue supporting the training of Palestinian officers, as his men prepare to join forces with their Gaza counterparts in the wake of a Fatah-Hamas reconciliation deal, DPA reported.
"We need more support and more efforts coming from the whole world ... to help the Palestinians make this reconciliation go well for the coming years," Brigadier Yousef Ozreil, the chief spokesman for the Palestinian Civil Police, said during a visit to Brussels.
"If we talk about police ... in Gaza - about 14,000 people - they have been out of work for the past four years, so they needs lots of help," he added. "They need to be rehabilitated and rebuilt again."
The Islamist movement Hamas seized sole control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 from the Palestinian Authority led by President Mahmoud Abbas.
The reconciliation deal between Hamas and Abbas' secular Fatah, which was formalized on Wednesday in Cairo, is meant to bring about the formation of an interim unity government that would administer both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
But local officials acknowledge they aren't entirely sure what that will translate into on the ground.
Chief Prosecutor Salem Jarrar said Gaza's judicial institutions are ready to return to work "as soon as matters are more clear."
"We still need to know more," Henrik Malmquist, the head of the EU police mission for the Palestinian territories, added. "We need to understand really what this agreement will mean and what will be the facts on the ground before we can start to discuss any details."
The police mission was established in 2005 and is one aspect of EU assistance to the Palestinians.
The bloc earmarked 100 million euros (144 million dollars) this year for Palestinians, but announced on Friday that it would provide a further 85 million euros to help cover the salaries and pensions of "vital workers" - such as doctors - and fund social allowances.
"It is important that access to essential public services remains uninterrupted," top EU foreign policy official Catherine Ashton said. "This decision renews our commitment to support the most vulnerable among Palestinians and is part of our support to the Palestinian Authority's institution-building programme."
Malmquist, who took over the helm of the EU police mission in January 2010, said he has seen "a lot of progress in building sustainable Palestinian institutions" in his areas of law enforcement and security.
Ozreil said the past year's major achievements include prisoner rehabilitation and training centres constructed in Jericho and extensive training undergone by police officers with EU support.
Chief Prosecutor Salem Jarrar also pointed to a new memorandum of understanding between the police and prosecutors that regulates how criminal investigations are to proceed, along with work on fighting and prosecuting corruption crimes.
"Surveys ... show that there is an increase in the confidence and trust of the Palestinian people in the justice sector," he said. "This is due to the progress and advancement of the justice sector, which was only made (possible) through the support of the European Union and other countries."
A Palestinian policeman had, however, made headlines last month when he opened fire on a group of Israelis in the northern West Bank, killing one - the nephew of a cabinet minister - and wounding four.
The group was visiting the shrine of Joseph's Tomb, near Nablus, without prior authorization from Palestinian authorities.
Ozreil said the policeman, who had been trained by United States forces under a programme separate from the EU mission, opened fire because he felt that "his life was in danger."
An inquiry has been opened into what Ozreil described as an "isolated incident."