Palestinians to get armored vehicles
Israel has agreed to let Russia deliver 25 armored vehicles to Palestinian security forces in the West Bank, a Defense Ministry spokesman said Friday, a move meant to bolster moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. ( AP )
Russia had proposed shipping the armored vehicles to Palestinian security forces two years ago, but Israel initially balked, fearing the cars would fall into the hands of Islamic Hamas militants.
Later, the deal was bogged down by Palestinian plans to mount the vehicles with guns - something Israel refused to approve.
Defense Ministry spokesman Ronen Moshe said the shipment of unarmed vehicles was authorized this week during Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's visit.
Palestinian officials weren't immediately available for comment.
Israel will allow the delivery of 25 additional armored vehicles once Abbas' forces expand their control in the West Bank, Israeli defense officials have said.
In June, forces loyal to Abbas lost control of Gaza after a five-day offensive by Hamas fighters, who captured large quantities of weapons and ammunition supplied by Israel, the U.S. and others.
Israel pulled out of the Gaza Strip in 2005 but still has a large military presence in the West Bank that indirectly helps Abbas' pro-Fatah forces maintain control there.