OCCUPIED JERUSALEM - Israel has authorized the Palestinian Authority to import 25 Russian-made armored vehicles to bolster security in the occupied West Bank, an Israeli official said on Saturday.
The vehicles, which will not be equipped with heavy machine guns, will contribute to rearming Palestinian forces after their defeat in the Gaza Strip by the Islamist Hamas movement last June, a defense ministry official said. The delivery of the vehicles, which has been pending for months, was approved during a visit to the region on Friday by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
They will be delivered to the West Bank from Jordan in the next few days. Moscow has proposed providing the Palestinians with 50 armored vehicles over two years, but Israel can veto the second shipment if it fears that the vehicles may fall into the hands of militants.
Israel held up the first shipment in December when the Palestinians requested that they be equipped with heavy machine guns.