Leaks claim Palestinian ‘collusion’

Leaked US cables say Palestinian security forces engage in extensive co-operation with their Israeli counterparts.

Palestinian police
Israeli security forces were said to have ‘friendly’ relations with the Palestinians [GALLO/GETTY]

The Palestinian security forces engage in extensive co-operation with their Israeli counterparts, according to US documents released by the whistleblower website, WikiLeaks.

The release of the documents comes as separate confidential documents just released by Al Jazeera under the rubric The Palestine Papers, describe the compromises the Palestinian Authority (PA) was prepared to make on key issues such as illegal Jewish settlements, the status of Haram al-Sharif (Temple Mount), refugees and the right of return, in addition to security co-operation with Israel.

The documents released by WikiLeaks appear to reinforce the allegations contained in The Palestine Papers, which describe many instances where the PA has worked closely with Israel.

One cable in the WikiLeaks documents quotes Yuval Diskin, the head of Shabak, Israel’s security service, as saying his agency has “friendly, professional and sincere” information exchanges with the PA, which governs the occupied West Bank.

In a meeting between Diskin and general Keith Dayton, the then-US security co-ordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority, on October 13, 2006, Dayton suggested to appoint a Palestinian “security interlocutor”.

In response to Dayton’s question of who Diskin would choose to work with if he could make the choice, Diskin presented his estimations of the primary Palestinian security players of that time; Rashid Abu Shabak, Tawfic Tirawi and Mohammed Dahlan.

Diskin stated that Rashid Abu Shabak [chief of the Preventative Security Organisation in Gaza] is weaker than he used to be, and under tremendous pressure because Mahmoud Abbas, the PA president, “had put him in an impossible situation, with an impossible mission as Director of Internal Security”.  Subsequently, Diskin stated “he cannot deliver and is not motivated to do so”.

‘Motivated, cruel and decisive’

Diskin told Dayton that Tawfic Tirawi [head of the Palestinian General Intelligence] is capable of accomplishing some of the things that need to be done in the West Bank. “He is motivated, cruel and decisive, but has no standing in Gaza.”

Mohammed Dahlan [former head of the Preventive Security Force in Gaza] was seen by Diskin as the most suitable person for the job. “[He] is smart enough, and […] understands the arena and all the players better than anyone, but his capabilities are weaker than they have ever been and he is under a lot of pressure.”

Diskin also emphasised in his meeting with Dayton that; “We must keep the Preventive security Operation (PSO) alive in Gaza.”

Other comments, first reported by Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter on Tuesday, included in a US note documenting a conversation between Diskin and James Cunningham, the US ambassador to Israel, in January 2010.

Another wire records complaints from those responsible for security in the PA about the “one-sided Israeli approach”.

Hazim Atallah, the West Bank’s most senior police official, expressed frustration “with far more information flowing from the Palestinian side to Israel than is received in return”.

Said Abu Ali, the minister of interior in the Palestinian provisional government, emphasised that it was “necessary” that the security collaboration with the Israelis remained confidential.

“Keep them [the contacts] out of the public eye,” the wire quotes him as saying.

The leaked US documents, also revealed that the Palestinians handed over a so-called Qassam rocket to the Israeli defence forces in early 2010. The Palestinian security forces had seized the home-made rocket in conjunction with the arrest and interrogation of two members of Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip.

‘Operational’ meetings

According to a document from the US embassy in Israel in 2005, Israeli and Palestinian security services had agreed to meet every 10 to 14 days at “operational level”, and to follow up with meetings “in the field”.

In a later cable, from 2007, a Palestinian intelligence officer said dozens of suspected “terrorists” had been detained in the recent past and that “confiscated ammunition and explosives routinely were handed over to Israeli military”.

A 2008 document said the Israeli army had handed over a list of suspected “terrorists” to the PA. The parties then agreed that the Palestinians should report back to Israel on what actions they had been taking.

Another document revealed that Israeli and Palestinian security services met in December 2008, during Israel’s war on Gaza, agreeing that a very close security co-operation was important to quell unrest in the West Bank.

The parties stressed the importance of keeping the meeting secret, “in the view of the sensitivity of security co-operation at times of Palestinian anger over the events in Gaza”.

The separate documents released by Al Jazeera reveal an exchange in 2005 between the PA and Israel on a plan to kill a Palestinian fighter in the Gaza Strip. Others tell how the PA and Israeli officials discussed collaboration between the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, the armed wing of Fatah, and Israeli security forces.

The Palestine Papers – 1,600 internal documents comprising the largest-ever leak of confidential documents from a decade of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations – appear to reveal two primary motives for the PA’s collaboration with Israel and their crackdown on dissent.

The documents reveal the extent to which the PA, the US and Israel were willing to work together with the common goal of destroying Hamas, and the extent to which the PA linked the fate of Hamas with its own political survival.

Source: Al Jazeera