Challenges: The Palestinian Authority (PA) is committed to building and maintaining competent and professional security and justice sectors to maintain security and stability in the West Bank. PA security forces work in conjunction with the justice sector to provide law enforcement, ensure public safety, combat violent crime including terrorism, and respect human rights in the West Bank. INL-funded programs assist the PA in achieving these objectives.
A three-star general serves as the United States Security Coordinator (USSC) based in Jerusalem. The USSC’s mission is to assist the PA to transform and professionalize its security sector; enable security cooperation between the Israelis and Palestinians; and support U.S. and international efforts that set the security conditions for a lasting comprehensive peace agreement. INL works closely with the USSC and provides funding for the program. The USSC and INL staff coordinate with the Government of Israel to implement this program.
Goals: The INL program began in 2007 with a goal of establishing special battalions within the PA National Security Force (NSF), a gendarmerie-like force that provides a rapid reaction capability to support the Palestinian Civil Police (PCP). After attaining this milestone in 2012, the program’s overall focus shifted from build, train, and equip to one currently focused on helping the PA to develop its institutional capacity.
INL and USSC have trained and equipped nine NSF Special Battalions and two Presidential Guard battalions, totaling over 5,500 personnel. The PA has deployed these battalions on successful operations throughout the West Bank, conducting counter-terrorism and other law enforcement operations and providing security during public events, including high-profile visits by President Obama in 2013, the Pope in 2014, and President Trump in 2017.
A Central Training Institute is being completed in the West Bank, to serve as a centralized training location with expert curricula for the PA security forces. A central logistics warehouse and satellite warehouses are being put in place to facilitate security force equipment storage, inventory, and distribution.
INL added a Ministry of Interior (MOI) project in 2008, which focuses on reform and increased accountability, management, and administrative oversight of the ministry.
INL added a justice sector project in 2009. The goal of the justice program is for the PA to improve delivery of justice services and to uphold the rule of law with the public, and within the PA security services. Its primary components include the creation of an automated case management system, improved evidence collection, increased coordination between law enforcement and prosecutors, and construction of new prosecutors’ offices in the West Bank. The program enables the PA to provide better public service and allows criminal investigators and public prosecutors to develop stronger cases that lead to faster, fairer, and more impartial justice. The justice program also develops legal defense capabilities for indigent and marginalized youth and adults.
INL’s training and technical assistance for criminal investigators and prosecutors has succeeded in cutting case backlogs by as much as 85 percent in some governorates, and shortening the length of time it takes prosecutors to prepare a case by as much as 50 percent. The increased efficiency and professionalism of the public prosecutors continues to develop stronger cases that lead to fast, fair, and impartial justice.
Since 2009, INL has trained over 2,900 prosecutors and law enforcement officers. INL and other international assistance has helped the MOI prioritize requests for security assistance, and to prepare long-term strategic plans for the PA security sector.
In 2010, INL introduced a corrections project and began supporting the Palestinian Civil Defense (PCD) (fire/rescue service). INL’s assistance to the PCD works to ensure it is prepared to prevent, mitigate, and control hazards. INL has funded construction of more than eight new fire stations, and trained thousands of firefighters. Corrections assistance has included advanced training for prison staff and administrators and security upgrades at facilities.