Israel allows armoured vehicles for Palestinian forces

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JERUSALEM, Nov 21 (Reuters) Israel approved the transfer of a shipment of armoured vehicles and ammunition to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's security forces ahead of a US-led peace conference, Israeli officials said today.

The shipment, which includes ammunition and 25 lightly armoured vehicles, will be used in the restive West Bank city of Nablus in an attempt to bolster Abbas against Hamas Islamists who seized control of the Gaza Strip in June.

''Within the framework of the Israeli gestures intended to bolster the Palestinian security forces for the prevention of terror, Israel has agreed to allow the Palestinians to receive 25 armoured vehicles for Nablus,'' an Israeli government official said.

Israel has provided earlier shipments of vehicles and ammunition in coordination with the US government and earlier this month allowed more than 300 members of the Palestinian National Security forces to deploy in Nablus as part of a Palestinian campaign to improve law and order.

''In the event that additional Palestinian forces will be deployed in other Palestinian cities, Israel will favourably consider the entry of 25 more vehicles for security purposes,'' the official said.

Reuters SG DB1249

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