Please allow me to introduce myself: I am an American-Israeli journalist and author writing from Jerusalem on security issues, as well an analyst with the Center for Near East Policy Research, based in Boston and in Jerusalem.
I write to share information that is critical to US interests in the Middle East: This is with regard to the State Department inspired project to bolster PA President Mahmoud Abbas, and to provide him with funds, arms and training via the Dayton plan, so that his security services might be strengthened.
Please understand that I do not represent the Israeli government and therefore have the latitude to say things that are not said by the government. There is a solid body of opinion here in Israel that concurs with what I am about to tell you.
Quite simply, the attempts to strengthen Abbas are a disaster. He is neither moderate nor stable. He does not represent a hope for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
Please consider the following:
1) Abbas is closely allied with terrorist forces.
A brief review of Abbas’s actions and policies from the time he became PA president makes this clear. He was the one who invited Hamas into the political process, and who began to incorporate terrorists into the PA security forces. In the Mecca agreement for a unity government, he moved to a more radical position to conform with Hamas demands.
2) Some of the other Fatah leaders perceived as the most “moderate” and promising the greatest hope for “reform” for Fatah are themselves greatly compromised.
In particular is this the case with Muhammad Dahlan, who is, without a doubt, a terrorist. He ordered an attack on a school bus in 2000, was complicit in the Karine A weapons ship operation, and maintained a close relationship with Hamas’s arch-terrorist Muhammad Dief.
Most recently it has been discovered that Dahlan was in possession of the ID card of murdered Israeli border guard Nissim Toledano. The credit for this murder was claimed by Hamas. The fact that Dahlan had Toledano’s ID card raises new questions about his – and Fatah’s – complicity with Hamas.
3) It has never been Abbas’s intention to take out Hamas.
There is considerable documentation for the fact that until the very end, when it was already too late, he did not give the order for his troops to fire on Hamas. Hamas didn’t defeat Fatah, Fatah troops allowed themselves to be routed. These troops were greater in number, had more and better weapons and were better trained. It was because of a failure of will that they lost.
Therefore, there is absolutely no reason to believe that when they confront Hamas in the West Bank – and rest assured they will! – they will do any better. Pumping money, training, armaments into Fatah-controlled PA security forces in the West Bank will not yield greater success than doing this in Gaza did.
3) There is an unvarying precedent for arms and funds supplied to the PA, for fighting terrorism, to ultimately end up in terrorist hands.
In spite of supposed guarantees in place to prevent this from happening, it is a good bet that it indeed will happen again.
4) According to the Middle East Newsline, a security oriented news service, Fatah (most notably Muhammad Dahlan) allied in Gaza with Al-Qaida forces, in the hopes that they would assist in defeating Hamas.
MENL says this prompted Egypt, which has great apprehension of Al Qaida, to allow the smuggling of weapons into Gaza to strengthen Hamas further.
5) Abbas has a special relationship with Al Aksa Martyrs’ Brigades, which is a terrorist arm of Fatah.
There has been a pretense maintained that Al Aksa is now independent of Fatah and has nothing to do with it, but this is not the case. I have been in touch with security experts, some of whom prefer to speak off the record, who tell me that Al Aksa continues to answer to Abbas and that Abbas protects Al Aksa and puts its people on the PA security payroll.
Now some most significant information has been exposed. Abbas pledged at the recent Sharm el-Sheikh conference to dismantle all militias not connected with his security forces. He has been telling the international community that Al Aksa Brigades has agreed to surrender its guns. It is partly on this basis – and the vision of a new, improved Fatah – that the US and Israel are prepared to assist Abbas.
However, WorldNetDaily has just released a piece that includes interviews with major Al Aksa Brigades leaders. They say that they have never been asked to surrender their arms, and that this message was meant for the international community. “Abbas,” says one leader, “recognizes the Brigades as a legitimate source of resistance.”
6) Hamas confiscated a great deal from Fatah in Gaza.
This has several important implications. First, US supplied weapons were taken from Fatah by Hamas, so that they were lost. Now there is talk about supplying Fatah again in the West Bank. This would likely be an exercise in futility and invite more of the same.
Second, Hamas has gained control of intelligence gathering equipment and intelligence files of Fatah, and will utilize these acquisitions to further weaken Fatah.
Abbas has not totally disavowed future connections with Gaza, and careful attention to various diplomatic statements makes it obvious that there remains the possibility of renewed negotiations between Fatah and Hamas. If Hamas is in possession of Fatah intelligence, it can extort concessions from Fatah.
Without a shadow of a doubt, it is Hamas’s intention to gain control of the West Bank. The Shin Bet (Israeli secret service) has just revealed a Hamas plan to gain control of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
Mahmoud Abbas and his cronies in Fatah are not in a position to stand against Hamas. Relying on Fatah will simply generate greater problems and cause further destabilization in the region.
Preventing destabilization of the region means permitting Israel to continue to take all necessary actions – including the maintenance of roadblocks – against terrorist infrastructure in the West Bank. Israel has been successful because of a presence there, with strong intelligence, and the ability to act as necessary. Strengthening of this approach is critically important at present.
Were Condeleezza Rice to have her way, a Palestinian State would be established in the West Bank with Fatah at its helm. This would be nothing short of a calamity for US interests in the region. It would mean the establishment of a terrorist state that would threaten forces of moderation and provide a base for terrorist training, storage of weapons, recruitment and attacks; it would severely destabilize the region.
I welcome communication and will gladly provide further documentation or answer questions.