Leaked documents detail how the US trained Palestinian Authority forces to repress resistance to the Israeli occupation. (MaanImages)
Details on the growing security cooperation between the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority, the United States and the United Kingdom were revealed yesterday, the third day of Al Jazeera network’s release of more than 1,600 internal documents and secret correspondence from the last decade of negotiations between the Israeli government, the Palestinian Authority and the United States.
Al Jazeera also confirmed that the Palestinian Authority was behind — or assisted Israel in — extra-judicial executions of high-level political opposition leaders and resistance fighters in the occupied Gaza Strip.
Notes between then Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and Palestinian Authority Interior Minister Nasser Yousef outline a plan in 2005 to kill Gaza-based al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade leader Hassan al-Madhoun (“The al-Madhoun assassination,” David Poort, 25 January 2011).
Mofaz wrote: “Hassan Madhoun, we know his address and Rasheed Abu Shabak [chief of the Preventative Security Organization in Gaza] knows that. Why don’t you kill him? Hamas fired [Qassam rockets] because of the elections and this is a challenge to you and a warning to Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas, the PA president].”
Youssef replied: “We gave instructions to Rasheed [Abu Shabak] and will see.”
Additional documents flesh out the collaboration between the PA and their Israeli counterparts. “Saeb Erekat, the PA’s chief negotiator, acknowledged the cost of gaining US approval and Israeli trust, in a meeting on 17 September 2009 with David Hale, the deputy US Middle East envoy,” Al Jazeera reported.
Al Jazeera obtained transcriptions of the meeting between Erekat and Hale. Here, Erekat said: “We have had to kill Palestinians to establish one authority, one gun and the rule of law. We continue to perform our obligations. We have invested time and effort and killed our own people to maintain order and the rule of law.”
David Poort analyzes for Al Jazeera: “It is not clear as to which killings Erekat is referring to but the discussion about the plan to kill al-Madhoun is just one example of how, since the death of Yasser Arafat, Fatah’s policy of resistance to Israel has become one of collaboration.”
US knew PA forces tortured dissidents
Additionally, more has been revealed in the details of the US’s involvement with training, arming and organizing the PA’s security forces.
As The Electronic Intifada has previously reported, in 2005, US Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton began training security forces loyal to the PA in Jordan. Reporting directly to the US Secretary of State, Dayton’s mission was to train Palestinian forces that would cooperate with Israel.
In subsequent years, PA security forces were exposed as brutally repressive arms of the PA, whose main aim was to quash dissent (“A prescription for civil war,” Jon Elmer, 8 February 2010).
The Electronic Intifada has reported extensively on the repressive actions of the PA security forces, trained under Dayton.
Al Jazeera’s document leak reveals that Dayton had acknowledged systematic torture of Palestinian dissidents by the PA forces he was tasked to train (“Dayton’s mission: A readers guide,” Mark Perry, 25 January 2011).
In a meeting between Dayton and Erekat in Ramallah in June 2009, Dayton said that “the intelligence guys [from the General Intelligence Service] are good.”
Dayton added: “The Israelis like them. They say they are giving as much as they are taking from them — but they are causing some problems for international donors because they are torturing people.”
In his analysis for Al Jazeera, Mark Perry said that Dayton therefore confirms that torture was being used as a tactic by the PA forces, continuing a long-standing “counter-terrorism” training structure previously developed by the CIA.
PA forces linked to MI6
The network also exposed documents on Tuesday linking the Palestinian Authority’s security forces to the UK’s intelligence agency, MI6, as the British agency provided funding for the PA’s security forces (“MI6 offered to detain Hamas figures,” 25 January 2011).
Al Jazeera reports that “the UK’s MI6 intelligence service proposed detaining members of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, an extraordinary — and illegal — scheme in which the European Union would have paid for their detention.”
The Electronic Intifada co-founder and executive director Ali Abunimah has been given special access to the Palestine Papers. He wrote an analysis of the PA’s willingness to collude with the Israeli government and military in destabilizing the Gaza Strip and collectively punishing Palestinians there.
Abunimah has been given special access to the documents and writes from Al Jazeera headquarters in Doha, Qatar.
Senior PA officials deliberately suppressed Palestinian popular resistance in Gaza, and even called for Israel to once again “occupy” the border crossing between Gaza and Egypt after the border wall was blown up by Hamas activists in January 2008, Abunimah writes (“Cutting off a vital connection,” 25 January 2011).
“In the following days tens of thousands — some estimates say hundreds of thousands — of Palestinians poured into Egypt to buy food, fuel, medications and other goods that had become scarce or unaffordable in Gaza, or to meet friends and family stranded on the Egyptian side,” Abunimah reports.
He adds that Ahmed Qureia, a senior official in the PA and Abbas’ Fatah faction, “appealed to Israel to step in and reseal [the wall] in February 2008.”
Then Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni asked Qureia if the wall breach appeared “to be a victory for Hamas.”
When Qureia responded yes, Abunimah reports, he also told Livni, “You’ve re-occupied the West Bank, and you can occupy the crossing if you want.”
The final cache of secret documents will be made public by Al Jazeera on Wednesday.
The entire Palestine Papers archive is being made available online on the Al Jazeera English website: http://english.aljazeera.net/palestinepapers/.