This week Dayton left on a home visit to the United States, after completing three missions: The first battalion of the rebuilt Palestinian National Security Forces, numbering 500 soldiers from the West Bank, completed four months of training in Jordan; a Presidential Guard training college is being constructed outside Jericho; and a strategic-planning department has been created in the Palestinian Authority's Interior Ministry in Ramallah, to establish decision-making and work processes. On the eve of his departure, Dayton finalized plans for a second Palestinian battalion to leave for training in Jordan, and after lengthy delays, obtained the approval of the Israeli Defense Ministry to equip the Palestinian forces with protective vests and new jeeps.Dayton says the first step in creating a Palestinian state is creating a Palestinian security force. In explaining his mission and his purpose, he said that if Palestinians can secure their own territory, then it cannot be used to launch attacks against Israel.
Whatever the reasons behind creating the forces, everyone seems to be pretty excited about it.
"The Jordanians said, after the first couple of weeks, who are these people? They're quick learners, they're disciplined, they follow orders, and they're motivated," recalled Dayton, who visited them with PA Interior Minister Abdel-Razak Yahya, a familiar figure for Israelis from the early days of the Oslo process.Dayton has a congressionally-approved budget of $75 million with which to train these security forces, and he expects to spend at least three years on this project.
"He may look like an old man," said Dayton, "but he's a young man. He gave a speech to them, which was just amazing. He told these guys, 'You're not learning how to fight the Israelis, you're not here to fight the occupation, you're here to fight the forces of disorder, the forces of crime and lawlessness inside Palestine.' He said 'armed groups,' which was his way of saying 'terrorists.' He said: If you do your job properly, we will have a state. The national project will succeed.'
"I went to the graduations," continued Dayton, "and I'm not naive. I watched them, kinda looked them in the eyes, and I'm telling you, these are new people. Now it can all go bad if political progress doesn't happen, I guess, but these are new people. They think they're building a state, and I'm pretty pleased about that."