The Palestinian Authority's Presidential Guard opened a new training center this month with support from the United States Government. The $10.1 million facility recently began operating in Jerico.
U.S. Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs David Johnson and Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad took part in ceremonies inaugurating the center on March 15.
Assistant Secretary Johnson praised the work of the Presidential Guard and the Palestinian Authority in developing a well-trained, professional security force to advance the rule of law, which is of fundamental importance to Palestinians.
United States Army Lieutenant General Keith W. Dayton, the U.S. Security Coordinator for the Israel-Palestinian Authority, has been overseeing the training of the 1,800-man Palestinian Authority Presidential Guard. General Dayton said that the professionalism and morale of the Guard is high.
"These guys now feel like they're on a winning team, that they are building a Palestinian state," he said. Brigadier General Munir al-Zoubi, commander of the Presidential Guard says, "We are here to enforce law and order and to use all means to fight terrorism."
Some 2,000 Palestinian Authority security forces have been trained with U.S. funding. Other Palestinian police and security forces are being trained with the help of the European Union.
The training of Palestinian's Security forces is only one facet of U.S. assistance. At the March 2, 2009 donors conference for Gaza recovery in Sharm el Sheikh, the United States announced its intent to provide approximately $900 million in support for the Palestinian Authority and Gaza. The assistance, subject to Congressional approval, includes urgently needed humanitarian assistance, financial support to meet the Palestinian Authority's anticipated budget shortfall and measures to solidify economic and institutional reforms on the West Bank.
In 2008, the United States was the largest single donor to the Palestinian people. Support for the training of Palestinian Authority security forces is part of the U.S. commitment to the security, freedom, and well-being of the Palestinian people.