Israeli military to equip Jewish settlers with gas and grenades

Army training for West Bank civilians as Palestinians push for UN recognition

Jerusalem

The Israeli military is to train Jewish settlers in the West Bank and plans to equip them with tear gas and stun grenades to confront Palestinian demonstrators when their leaders press for UN recognition next month.

The enlistment of settlers, which has already opened with a training session for their local security officers, is part of the military's comprehensive "Operation Summer Seeds" for dealing with possible violence as the UN considers whether or not to recognise a Palestinian state.

According to a document leaked to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the defence establishment's working assumption – challenged by the moderate Palestinian leadership in Ramallah – is that the UN move will trigger "mass disorder". This includes, Israel contends, "marches toward main junctions, Israeli communities, and education centers; efforts at damaging symbols of [Israeli] government".

The document also reportedly envisages the possibility of "more extreme cases like shooting from within the demonstrations or even terrorist incidents. In all the scenarios, there is readiness to deal with incidents near the fences and the borders of the State of Israel".

Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian National Authority, has insisted that demonstrations should be non-violent and while he has publicly backed the idea of "popular resistance" there have been unconfirmed suggestions that he and the Palestinian security forces will work to ensure their scale is limited.

The report in Haaretz says that the military is making it clear that demonstrations will be controlled and that it has sufficient forces to deal with every disturbance. It has, however, already decided in principle to equip settlement chief security officers with the means of dispersing demonstrations, although it acknowledges a shortage of equipment for firing such ammunition.

The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) confirmed yesterday it was "holding an ongoing professional dialogue with elements in the settlement leadership, with the routine security personnel, and is investing many resources in training forces, from a defensive standpoint and in readiness for possible scenarios". The military added that its central command had completed training most "first response teams" – the voluntary squads of settlers routinely assigned to deal with any attacks on them before troops arrive.

Israel's hard-line Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, was quoted earlier this month claiming the Palestinians were planning "unprecedented bloodshed" around the time of the UN vote. The claim is seen by Palestinian officials in Ramallah as an unjustified attempt to talk up the possibility of confrontation.

The military's own preparations have been drawn up in parallel with a concerted diplomatic initiative at persuading UN member states not to back the recognition bid, which Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki says will be presented on 20 September.

But according to a leaked Israeli foreign ministry document, Ron Prosor, Israel's ambassador to the UN, has already admitted it will be well nigh impossible to prevent the UN General Assembly from approving the Palestinian call. The Palestinians are currently expected to call for the same "non- member state" status within the UN as enjoyed by the Vatican.

At the same time efforts are being made by Ramallah to widen the international consensus in its favour, possibly by stressing that the borders of a state will only be agreed by negotiations.

The US, which strongly opposes the UN move, is pressing the EU and Russia, co-members of the international Middle East "Quartet" to come up with an early statement aimed to bring the two sides back to the negotiating table. Tony Blair, the Quartet's Middle East envoy who is due in the region next week, has been entrusted with trying to find an acceptable formula to break a deadlock partly created by Israel's insistence that the Palestinians recognise it as a "Jewish state".

But even if the US-backed initiative succeeds, it is unlikely to deter the Palestinians from pressing ahead with the General Assembly vote on the grounds that talks with the present Israeli government are unlikely to lead to an agreement, a view privately shared by some Western diplomats.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
  • Get to the point
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions