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More Peres Good Will: Guns for the PA

Prime Minister Sharon should give the PA guns for thousands of soldiers as another "goodwill gesture," according to Associate PM Shimon Peres. Israel has handed over Gush Katif maps to the PA.

First Publish: 6/19/2005, 2:10 PM / Last Update: 6/17/2005, 4:28 PM

"It's not the guns that threaten us, but the suicide bombers," Peres told Israel Radio Friday, repeating what he has said many times in the past several years.

Israel also announced at the end of last week that it had turned over to the PA detailed maps of the infrastructure of water and electric lines in the 21 Jewish communities in Gaza. Residents have expressed fears that if the PA will receive the maps, they will quickly find their way into the hands of terrorists and enable them to pinpoint attacks. More detailed maps of the towns have not been given to the PA.

The PA has announced that it plans to secure the Gaza area with 5,000 soldiers, but that it needs weapons that prohibited by previous Arab-Israeli agreements. Allowing PA soldiers to carry light arms would another in a series of concessions by the Sharon government, which has asserted several times that it would not offer the PA any new freedoms until it cracks down on terror.

However, General William Ward, the new American special envoy in the Middle East, has increasingly put pressure on Israel to make concessions to the PA. Israel also reportedly plans to relinquish security control to the PA over large urban areas, including Jenin and Kalkilye.

Peres explained that the weapons would help the PA keep order amidst the growing anarchy between the PA and rival terrorist organizations. "Light arms do not pose a threat to Israel," he said. "The threat on Israel comes on the one hand from a war with tanks and airplanes and on the other hand from terrorists."