The armored vehicles promised to Palestinian security forces shortly before a recent Mideast summit in the U.S. are designed to help Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the fight against militant groups on the West Bank, following the seizure of the Gaza Strip from pro-presidential Fatah in June by the Hamas movement.
According to Israeli intelligence, a large number of militant cells are located in Nablus. Palestinian authorities took steps in November to tighten security in the city.
Russia, a likely arm supplier, offered to transfer its BRDM-2 armored personnel carriers to the PNA two years ago, but the Israeli military and intelligence department opposed the proposal, fearing the equipment could end up in the hands of Islamist militants.
The recent one-day Middle East conference, which was attended by 44 nations November 27 in Annapolis, produced a joint statement signed by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Abbas, including an agreement to broker a peace deal by the end of next year.
However, Olmert cast a shadow on the success of the Annapolis forum on Sunday, by saying that Israel did not recognize the 2008 target date as a deadline.
"There is no commitment to a specific timetable regarding these negotiations," Olmert told his Cabinet.
Israeli authorities released 429 Palestinian prisoners on Monday in an amnesty following the U.S.-sponsored peace conference, local radio said.