Israel Likely to Approve More PLO Gunmen for Gaza

Israel has agreed in principle to the deployment of another 1,000 members of the PLO's Fatah-affiliated Badr Brigade in Gaza.

Nissan Ratzlav-Katz , | updated: 7:49 PM

The militia will be placed primarily in northern Gaza, in the hope they will act on behalf of Fatah chief Mahmoud Abbas and prevent Kassam rocket attacks on Israeli population centers. The force would be added to the 13,000 authorized Palestinian Authority gunmen already present in the area.

The Badr Brigade is currently based in Jordan and under the Hashemite Kingdom's control, though it is officially affiliated with the Palestinian Liberation Organization and functionally loyal to the Fatah terror faction. The 2,000-man force is part of the Palestinian Liberation Army, which was founded by the PLO in 1964.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert set two conditions for the arrival of the additional PLO gunmen: Israel will maintain the right to demand that they leave Gaza at any time, and they may not come with their families. The latter condition is rooted in the suspicion that mass arrivals would be interpreted as Israel giving in on its objections to the so-called Arab 'right of return.' According to reports, both the PA and Jordan agreed to the conditions set by Jerusalem.

It remains unclear when the force will arrive. It is possible that it will be contingent on Fatah and Hamas signing an agreement that will result in a PA coalition government. An unnamed source told Reuters, "It is likely to take some time."

According to a report in the British Daily Telegraph earlier this month, US President George W. Bush encouraged Prime Minister Ehud Olmert during their meeting in Washington to authorize the entry of the Jordanian-based militia.