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OPT: Abbas may review security ties after Israeli raid

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* Abbas says Israel has stepped up "provocations"

* Says he will 'think anew' on security unless Israel stops

By Ali Sawafta

RAMALLAH, West Bank, Jan 1 (Reuters) - The Palestinians may review their West Bank security ties with Israel if it continues unilateral operations such as a Dec. 26 raid which killed three militants, President Mahmoud Abbas said on Friday.

After losing control of the Gaza Strip to rival Hamas Islamists in 2007, the U.S.-backed Abbas reordered his West Bank forces in coordination with Israel, whose settlements and other occupied zones make the territory complex to administer.

Abbas says the measures are part of the Palestinian drive for sovereign independence from Israel, but slow peacemaking progress and Israeli military actions have sapped his support.

"Recently their provocations and incursions have increased," Abbas told Palestine Television, referring to the raid on Nablus, in which three militants from his Fatah faction died, as well as Israel's killing of three Palestinians in Gaza that day.

"We find ourselves before the point of review, of considering many of the things that we do," he said. "If the (security) coordination does not lead to a halt in the incursions and the provocations, we will think anew." The Nablus bloodshed was especially touchy for Abbas given the Fatah connection. Israel, which accused the three militants of killing a Jewish settler on Dec. 24, said they were shot after being cornered and ignoring calls to surrender.

An Israeli defence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the raid was not delegated to Abbas's forces in part out of fear they would be slow to confront Fatah militants.

Abbas has long cracked down on Hamas's West Bank activities and this, combined with a law-and-order campaign and economic revival projects, has drawn U.S. and Israeli praise. Hamas is shunned by the West for spurning peace with the Jewish state.

In his television interview, Abbas did not elaborate on how he might scale back security ties to Israel. His administration this week spoke of a possible diplomatic breakthrough after Israel held strategic consultations with powerbroker Egypt.

"Coordination (with Israel) is required, and it is very important, because of the overlap that we have," Abbas said. "We are fulfilling our duties, but we are not doing it for Israel. Israel may benefit from it."

(Writing by Mohammed Assadi; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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