Documents obtained by Reuters show that the Bush administration's $86.4 million in aid is going to be used beyond the previously announced objective of strengthening the Presidential Guard, the personal army of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

Abbas also controls the National Security Forces, a larger and weaker militia than the elite Presidential Guard. The American aid is meant to help "transform and strengthen elements of the PA's security structure, specifically the National Security Forces and Presidential Guard in an effort to improve public order and fight terror," according to the sensitive but unclassified document.

It states that Israel backs the American initiative, which also may cover training and equipping 1,000 Fatah Jordan-based fighters who would become part of Abbas's forces "in the event of a deployment in Gaza." The assistance does not include giving Abbas weapons, but Egypt and Jordan, using American foreign aid, have supplied Abbas with thousands of rifles and ammunition. This, in addition to Israel's giving arms to the PA during the Oslo Accords in the mid-1990s.

The National Security Forces includes 40,0000 men, and has essentially become a Fatah army, including members who also belong to other terrorist organizations. The American support is conditioned on the basis that those being trained do not have contact with terrorists, but it is not clear how this policy will be carried out.

The U.S. government fears that the growing Hamas Executive Force, heavily armed with the help of continued smuggling of weapons from Egypt, will have the upper hand against Fatah.

Some analysts have warned that fighting between Hamas and Fatah could turn into a proxy war, with the United States supporting Abbas and Iran backing Hamas, Reuters added.

Abed Salaam Shihada, a Gazan documentary maker, told The New York Times that Hamas is reacting to the American-led boycott and the American aid and training to Fatah forces loyal to Mr. Abbas. "For them it’s a battle for existence,” he said.

Hamas Condemns Quartet

Hamas condemned the Quartet for its decision Friday to keep in force the ban on transferring funds directly to the PA government. The reason for the ban is because the PA legislature is controlled by Hamas, which won a majority of seats in least year's elections. The Bush administration had promoted the elections as an act of democracy that would help stabilize the region.

However, the ban on Hamas has given the terrorist organization ammunition to accuse Western nations of hypocrisy for not accepting the results of democracy.

“The Quartet's resolutions only help the Israeli occupation and contradict basic standards of democracy,” said Taher al-Nounou, spokesman for the Hamas-held foreign ministry. "The resolutions also contribute to besieging the Palestinian people and imposing collective punishment on the people who believe in democracy," he added.

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