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Peace initiatives unpopular in West Bank -

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Peace initiatives unpopular in West Bank

Broadcast: 07/05/2008

Reporter: Matt Brown

The Palestinian Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, has sent beefed up Palestinian security forces into
Jenin in the west bank as part of the first stage of the Palestinian obligation in the
internationally backed roadmap to peace.


TONY JONES: A beefed up Palestinian security force sent to Jenin on the weekend has clashed with
militants leaving one Palestinian civilian dead.

The presence of the troops is part of the first stage of the Palestinian obligation in the US
backed road map to peace.

Middle East correspondent Matt Brown reports from Jenin.

MATT BROWN: They're trained by the United States and loyal to the Western-backed Palestinian
Government. They've been sent in to Jenin, a hot bed of militancy to bring the city under control.

SALAM FAYYAD, PALESTINIAN PRIME MINISTER: The guns and weapons are the sole preview of the
Palestinian national authority. Guns only in the hands of security officer,

MATT BROWN: Their orders are to crack down on crime but in the interests of a peace deal with
Israel, they're expected to crackdown on militants as well.

MARK REGEV, ISRAELI GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN: They have very serious challenges, the terrorist groups
are entrenched and well armed and ultimately if this peace process is going to go anywhere, those
groups have to be disarmed as the Palestinians committed to doing.

MATT BROWN: However, the troops tread a fine line. Their government is less popular than the
Islamic groups it's holding at bay and many in Jenin accuse it of collaborating with the Israeli

When the troops tried to enter Jenin's refugee camp where the militants hide out, they were
repelled by local youths throwing rocks. It was just the kind of welcome normally reserved for the
occupying Israeli army.

"If they came to improve security they are welcome," this youth says. "But if they've come to take
the weapons off the resistance, we will oppose them."

To avoid a confrontation, a delicate dance has been under way on these streets. The biggest militia
is made up of secular nationalists, not Islamists and many of its members are in the local security

The brigade leader says his group and the Government have agreed to avoid a confrontation. He's
about to slip quietly out of town but more radical militia men insist on staying behind.

The gunmen from Islamic Jihad still haven't left Jenin and the Americans and the Israelis expect
the Palestinian forces to take them on and win if this is to be anything more than just a
choreographed show of control.

While US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has been in town for yet another round of faltering
peace talks, there's little chance of a break through.

And Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has been engulfed in a new corruption scandal. While he was
preparing for the latest round of diplomacy, he was being questioned by police from the national
fraud squad.

Matt Brown, Lateline.