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“Our Man in Palestine” by Nathan Thrall

Mardi, 21 septembre 2010 - 15h21

Tuesday 21 September 2010


From time to time, the Palestine Center distributes articles it believes will enhance understanding of the Palestinian political reality. The following article by Nathan Thrall was published in the New York Review of Books on 16 September 2010.


On August 31, the night before President Obama’s dinner inaugurating direct talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders, Hamas gunmen shot and killed four Jewish settlers in Hebron, the West Bank’s largest and most populous governorate. The attack—the deadliest against Israeli citizens in more than two years—was condemned by Palestinian and Israeli officials, who said that it was meant to thwart the upcoming negotiations. According to a Hamas spokesman, however, the shooting had a more specific purpose: to demonstrate the futility of the recent cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian security forces. This cooperation has reached unprecedented levels under the quiet direction of a three-star US Army general, Keith Dayton, who has been commanding a little-publicized American mission to build up Palestinian security forces in the West Bank.1

Referred to by Hamas as “the Dayton forces,” the Palestinian security services are formally under the authority of Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president and chairman of Hamas’s rival, Fatah; but they are, in practice, controlled by Salam Fayyad, the unelected prime minister, a diminutive, mild-mannered technocrat. Abbas appointed Fayyad following Hamas’s grim takeover of Gaza in June 2007—which occurred seventeen months after the Islamist party won the January 2006 parliamentary elections—and entrusted him with preventing Hamas from also seizing the West Bank.

Fayyad received a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Texas at Austin and held positions at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, the World Bank, and the IMF before becoming finance minister under President Yasser Arafat. His reputation as a fiscally responsible and trustworthy manager ensures the steady supply of international aid on which the Palestinian economy depends. Though he has neither a popular following nor backing from a large political party (his Third Way list received a mere 2.4 percent of the votes in the 2006 legislative elections), today he is responsible for nearly every aspect of Palestinian governance. Yet he is not participating in the negotiations over a settlement with Israel, which are the province of the PLO (of whose leadership Fayyad is not a member) and are handled by its chairman, the seventy-five-year-old Abbas.

Fayyad is criticized at home for many of the same reasons he is lauded abroad. He has condemned violence against Israel as antithetical to his people’s national aspirations, stated that Palestinian refugees could be resettled not in Israel but in a future Palestinian state, and suggested that this state would offer citizenship to Jews.2 He is praised in the opinion pages of The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times, and has good relations with foreign leaders unpopular in Palestine: on Fayyad’s first visit to the Oval Office, in 2003, George W. Bush greeted him with index and pinky fingers extended to display UT Austin’s “Hook ‘em Horns” sign. When the daughter of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s chief of staff was married several years ago, Fayyad sat next to Sharon at the wedding and talked with him at length.3

In February, Fayyad spoke before Israel’s security establishment at the annual Herzliya Conference, where he was compared by Israeli President Shimon Peres to David Ben-Gurion.4 Much of Fayyad’s speech concerned his ambitious plan, made public in late August 2009, to establish unilaterally a de facto Palestinian state by August 2011. By that time, according to Fayyad, “the reality of [a Palestinian] state will impose itself on the world.”5 Fayyad’s plan to “build” a state—he does not say he will declare one—has been endorsed by the Quartet (the US, EU, UN, and Russian Federation) and supported eagerly by international donors.

Some Palestinians have rejected it as too closely resembling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s notion of “economic peace,” which proposes that development precede independence. And a number of Israelis have expressed suspicions that Palestine will seek UN recognition of its statehood when the plan is complete. Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli foreign minister, has warned that any unilateral steps Fayyad takes toward a state could prompt Israel to annul past agreements and annex parts of the West Bank.6

Fayyad has said that his plan to build a new state “is intended to generate pressure” on Israeli–Palestinian negotiations, and the direct talks recently started by the two parties have a late summer 2011 deadline that coincides with Fayyad’s.7 Mike Herzog, former chief of staff to Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, told me, “Ultimately, I think Fayyad calculates that political negotiations will not succeed and his plan [to establish a state] will be the only game in town.” The danger, for Israel and the Palestinian Authority alike, is what will happen if negotiations fail and Fayyad’s plan does not produce significant concessions from Israel. “We are not going to withdraw from certain areas just because there was a declaration or a UN resolution,” Herzog said. In that event Hamas will be able to present a persuasive argument that violence is the only means of achieving national liberation. “Fayyad sets an arbitrary date and says, ‘Okay, now all of you break your heads if you want to avoid a catastrophe,’” Herzog said. “What he did is very risky but also very smart.”

So far, Fayyad’s strategy is succeeding. His administration has started more than one thousand development projects, which include paving roads, planting trees, digging wells, and constructing new buildings, most prominently in the twin cities of Ramallah and al-Bireh.8 He has reduced dependence on foreign aid and started to carry out plans to build new hospitals, classrooms, courthouses, industrial parks, housing, and even a new city, Rawabi, between Ramallah and Nablus. But “reforming the security forces,” Ghassan Khatib, a spokesman for the Palestinian Authority, told me, “is the main and integral part of the Fayyad plan. Many of the government’s other successes, such as economic growth, came as a result.”

To its citizens, Fayyad’s government has presented reform of the police and other security forces as principally a matter of providing law and order—apprehending criminal gangs, consolidating competing security services, forbidding public displays of weapons, and locating stolen cars. But its program for “counterterrorism”—which is directed mainly against Hamas and viewed by many Palestinians as collaboration with Israel—is its most important element: targeting Hamas members and suspected sympathizers is intended to reduce the likelihood of a West Bank takeover and, as important, helps Fayyad make a plausible case that he is in control and that Israel can safely withdraw from the territory.

In 2009, Palestinian and Israeli forces took part in 1,297 coordinated activities, many of them against militant Palestinian groups, a 72 percent increase over the previous year.9 Together they have largely disbanded the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a principal Fatah militia; attacked Islamic Jihad cells; and all but eliminated Hamas’s social institutions, financial arrangements, and military activities in the West Bank.

According to the latest annual report of the Shin Bet, Israel’s FBI, “continuous [counterterrorist] activity conducted by Israel and the Palestinian security apparatuses” reduced Palestinian attacks against Israelis in the West Bank and East Jerusalem to their lowest numbers since 2000.10 Today’s level of cooperation, Herzog said, “is better than before the second intifada even—it’s excellent.” Mouna Mansour, a Hamas legislator in the Palestinian Parliament and widow of an assassinated senior leader of the movement, told me, “The PA has succeeded more than the Israelis in crushing Hamas in the West Bank.”

At the center of the Palestinian government’s security reforms are several “special battalions” of the National Security Forces (NSF), an eight-thousand-member gendarmerie that makes up the largest unit of the 25,000-strong Palestinian armed forces in the West Bank.11 The officer in charge of the vetting, training, equipping, and strategic planning of these special battalions is Lieutenant General Keith Dayton, the United States security coordinator (USSC) for Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

In a desert town sixteen miles southeast of Amman, more than three thousand Palestinians have completed nineteen-week military courses under Dayton’s supervision at the Jordan International Police Training Center, built with American funds in 2003 for the instruction of Iraqi police. In Hebron, Jenin, Jericho, and Ramallah, the Dayton mission is organizing the construction and renovation of garrisons, training colleges, facilities for the Interior Ministry, and security headquarters—some of which, like the one I visited on a hilltop in central Hebron, were destroyed by Israel during the second intifada. The office of the USSC plans to build new camps in Bethlehem, Ramallah, Tubas, and Tulkarm. It offers two-month leadership courses to senior PA officers, and has created and appointed advisers to a Strategic Planning Directorate in the Ministry of Interior.12 Over the past three years, the State Department has allocated $392 million to the Dayton mission, with another $150 million requested for 2011.13

At its headquarters in a nineteenth-century stone building at the US consulate in West Jerusalem, the USSC has a forty-five-person core staff composed primarily of American and Canadian but also British and Turkish military officers. In addition, it employs twenty-eight private contractors from the Virginia-based DynCorp International.14 State Department rules require the mission’s US government staff to travel only in large, heavily armored convoys, though these restrictions do not apply to its private security contractors and foreign military officers, some of whom are based in Ramallah. By late 2011—a date that dovetails with Fayyad’s deadline—the USSC plans to have supervised the training of ten NSF battalions, one for every West Bank governorate except Jerusalem.15

General Dayton reports to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He advises George Mitchell, special envoy for Middle East peace, and has been praised by influential senators, congressmen, and Middle East analysts, who view the work of the USSC as a singular achievement.16 Israel has granted greater responsibility to Palestinian security forces, expanding their geographical areas of operation, sharing higher-quality intelligence with them, and lifting their midnight-to-five-AM curfews in several of the largest West Bank cities.17 According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Israel has also reduced the travel time between most urban centers in the West Bank by opening roads, relaxing controls at checkpoints, lifting vehicle permit requirements, and removing physical obstacles, which are expected to be reduced in the near future to their lowest number since 2005.18

Colonel Philip J. Dermer, a former member of the USSC, wrote in a March 2010 report circulated among senior White House and military staff that “the USSC mission has arguably achieved more progress on the ground than any other US effort in Israeli- Palestinian peacemaking”19 Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, has said, “You can send George Mitchell back and forth to the Middle East as much as you like, but expanding what [General] Dayton is doing in the security realm to other sectors of Palestinian governance and society is really the only viable model for progress.”20

The first United States security coordinator, Lieutenant General William “Kip” Ward, arrived in Jerusalem in March 2005. Elliott Abrams, formerly the deputy national security adviser to President George W. Bush, told me that Ward’s mission was organized in response to three closely coinciding events: the reelection, in November 2004, of Bush, who wanted to rebuild Palestinian security forces as a part of his 2003 road map to Middle East peace; the death, nine days later, of Yasser Arafat, who had resisted American attempts to reform the Palestinian security services; and the victory of America’s favored candidate, Mahmoud Abbas, in the January 2005 presidential election.

Ward’s mission concentrated initially on security reform but was soon limited to preparing for Israeli Prime Minister Sharon’s disengagement from Gaza and four northern West Bank settlements in August and September 2005.21 The withdrawal went fairly smoothly for Israel, but Ward failed to prevent violence on the Palestinian side. Settler greenhouses were looted, empty synagogues were burned, and Palestinians began fighting one another for control of Gaza.22

Weeks after Dayton took over from Ward at the end of 2005, Hamas defeated Fatah in the January 2006 parliamentary elections. Overnight, Dayton’s task changed from reforming the security forces to preventing a Hamas-led government from controlling them. State Department lawyers sought ways to continue assisting the Fatah-dominated security forces of the Palestinian Authority, which would soon be led by Hamas, a group the US had declared a terrorist organization. The solution was to send direct aid to President Abbas, who was elected separately and could be considered detached from the incoming Hamas-led government and legislature. In a reversal of its longstanding policy of pressuring the Palestinian president to give power to the cabinet, the US advised Abbas to issue decrees and make appointments that would limit the new government’s rule, particularly over the security forces.23 Hamas reacted by establishing a security service of its own. Abbas banned the Hamas force in a decree that the cabinet then declared illegal. During the next year, Hamas and Fatah engaged in a series of violent clashes in which leaders on both sides were assassinated.24

Dayton, meanwhile, was overseeing the recruitment, training, and equipping of Abbas’s rapidly expanding security forces.25 Khaled Meshaal, chief of Hamas’s politburo, delivered a fiery speech denouncing “the security coup” as a “conspiracy” supported by “the Zionists and the Americans”—charges Fatah denied.26 In February 2007, on the brink of civil war, Fatah and Hamas leaders traveled to Mecca, where they agreed to form a national unity government, a deal the US opposed because it preferred that Fatah continue to isolate Hamas. Fayyad became finance minister in the new government, despite, he says, American pressure not to join.27 The Peruvian diplomat Alvaro de Soto, former UN envoy to the Quartet, wrote in a confidential “End of Mission Report” that the violence between Hamas and Fatah could have been avoided had the US not strongly opposed Palestinian reconciliation. “The US,” he wrote, “clearly pushed for a confrontation between Fateh and Hamas.”28

One month before Gaza fell to Hamas in June 2007, Hamas forces attacked USSC-trained troops at their base near Gaza’s border with Israel, killing seven and withdrawing only after three Israeli tanks approached.29 Testifying before Congress the following week, Dayton claimed that the attack had been repulsed and denied that Hamas was on the rise—a prediction not borne out during the following weeks.30 “It took [Hamas] just a few days,” said Raji Sourani, director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, “to flush away a 53,000-strong PA security apparatus which was a fourteen-year Western investment.”31

Though several members of the Bush administration later said that the entire strategy had been mistaken, the defeat of American-backed Fatah forces offered a rather different lesson to the small circle that had influence over the USSC.32 “We didn’t regard this as proof the project wasn’t working,” Abrams said, “but rather that the project was needed.”

Gaza was lost, but in Abbas’s appointment of an emergency cabinet led by Salam Fayyad, the US felt it had “the best Palestinian Authority government in history.” So I was told by David Welch, a former assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs who helped oversee the Dayton mission until December 2008. The Bush administration ended its fourteen-month embargo of the PA, Israel released $500 million in withheld taxes, Palestinian and Israeli security forces increased their coordination, and the USSC rapidly expanded its operations. In Fayyad’s first three and a half months as prime minister, from mid-June to October 2007, the Palestinian Authority mounted a campaign in the West Bank against charities, businesses, preachers, and civil servants affiliated with Hamas, arresting some 1,500 of the movement’s members and suspected sympathizers.33 “Once it became clear that Hamas had won in Gaza,” Welch said, “then the whole thing was a lot cleaner to do in the West Bank.”

By late October 2007, the government was making an intensive effort to maintain order in Nablus, one of the West Bank’s most violent cities; in Jenin the following May a special battalion trained by the USSC led the largest security operation ever mounted by the PA.34 Both efforts won approval from local residents, who were grateful for improved security. But these projects were largely dependent not only on restraint by Hamas and Islamic Jihad but also on Israel’s support, including the amnesty it offered to Fatah gunmen.35

Many Palestinians see today’s campaigns by the security forces as an effort to suppress Hamas—the victors in free and fair elections—and also to prevent attacks against Israel. “The challenge for Fayyad and Abbas,” Ghaith al-Omari, a former foreign policy adviser to Abbas, told me, “is that for many Palestinians violence against Israel is a nationalist, respectable endeavor.” This is a view confirmed by reactions to the most recent suicide bombing in Israel—at a Dimona shopping center in February 2008—and the shooting one month later of eight students at a yeshiva in West Jerusalem. More than three quarters of polled Palestinians supported the attacks, which were praised by Hamas and condemned by the PA.36

Over the following year, the PA alienated itself from the public still further and with little aid from Hamas. At an Israeli base north of Ramallah in September 2008, the Israeli journalist Nahum Barnea attended a meeting between Palestinian and Israeli commanders. In an article later translated in the Palestinian press, Barnea reported in Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel’s most widely circulated newspaper, that the head of the Palestinian National Security Forces told the Israelis, “We have a common enemy,” and the chief of Palestinian military intelligence said, “We are taking care of every Hamas institution in accordance with your instructions”37

Another blow to the PA’s popularity came one and a half months later. After Israeli forces evicted some two hundred Jews from a contested building in Hebron, Israeli settlers in the area vandalized ambulances and mosques, set fire to cars and homes, and shot and wounded Palestinian residents. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he was “ashamed at the scenes of Jews opening fire at innocent Arabs,” an event he called a “pogrom.”38 When the riots spread to the Palestinian-controlled part of the city, Hebron locals watched as their security forces quietly disappeared.39 Both the former governor, now Abbas’s chief of staff, and the NSF commander of Hebron, a Hamas stronghold, told me that Israeli soldiers regularly make incursions into PA-controlled areas, forcing, the governor said, “humiliated and insulted” Palestinian troops to withdraw to their barracks. Perceptions of collaboration are heightened, they added, by Israel’s frequent practice of arresting people who have just been released from Palestinian detention.

The most damage to the reputation of the Palestinian security forces occurred during the Israeli war in Gaza, which began in December 2008. In plainclothes and uniform, PA officers in the West Bank surrounded mosques, kept young men from approaching Israeli checkpoints, arrested protesters chanting Hamas slogans, and dispersed demonstrators with batons, pepper spray, and tear gas.40 The trust between Israeli and Palestinian forces was so great, Dayton said, that “a good portion of the Israeli army went off to Gaza.”41 Barak Ben-Zur, a former head of counterterrorism in Israeli military intelligence and later special assistant to the director of the Shin Bet, told me that “in Israeli Arab cities there were more protests against the war than in the West Bank,” thanks to the “total quiet kept by the Palestinian security services.” Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman later said, “Mahmoud Abbas himself called and asked us, pressured us to continue the military campaign and overthrow Hamas.”42

Several months after the war in Gaza, Dayton spoke before an influential group of politicians and analysts at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, where he boasted of his mission’s accomplishments: building a force that worked against Hamas and cooperated with Israel during the war, and creating “new men” through USSC training of Palestinian troops. Israeli commanders, he said, asked him how quickly he could produce more.43 His comments were not well received in Palestine, where they reinforced the image of the US and Israel as puppeteers. In the months following the speech, the PA sent a formal complaint to the US about Dayton’s “unacceptable declarations”; senior Palestinian officials, including Fayyad, refused to attend meetings with Dayton; and, according to Jane’s Defence Weekly, “owing to tensions in the relationship between [General] Dayton and the civilian Palestinian leadership, his role [was] scaled down.”44

For Fayyad, Dayton’s speech could not have been timed more poorly; it followed the release of a widely publicized poll that had found the PA’s legitimacy among West Bank residents at record lows, and occurred just weeks after Palestinians held large demonstrations protesting an alleged attempt by PA security forces to assassinate Sheikh Hamed al-Beitawi, a prominent Hamas leader in the West Bank.45 Beitawi, a member of the parliament, chairman of the Palestinian Islamic Scholars Association, and a cleric well known for his sermons at Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque, had escaped a separate attack by unidentified assailants in the autumn of 2008.46 The PA banned him this summer from preaching and two of his sons have been arrested since July. Yet Beitawi said he was confident that the Fayyad government would not last.47 “Fatah and the PA are going down for two reasons,” he told me in Nablus: “corruption and coordination with the Israelis.”

Last December, when Israeli forces in Nablus, allegedly acting on a tip from PA security services, killed three Palestinian militants suspected of murdering a West Bank rabbi, more than 20,000 Palestinians attended the funeral, which turned into an enormous protest against the PA’s security cooperation with Israel.48 Several days later, Hamas’s al-Aqsa TV broadcast a cartoon with a chorus singing, “We swear that we will not be terrorized by Dayton.”49 Its central character, Balool, is a Palestinian National Security Force commander who kisses the boots of Israeli soldiers, wears a beret bearing the insignia “Dayton,” and claims not to represent any political faction just before his pants fall to reveal underwear colored in Fatah’s yellow.

On the day the cartoon was shown on television, Abbas, who is depicted in it as an Israeli soldier’s marionette, told an interviewer, “We are not Israel’s security guards.”50 A week later, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Doha-based television preacher who is watched by an audience of tens of millions, said in a sermon broadcast on Qatar TV that “if it is proven that [Abbas] incited Israel to strike Gaza, he deserves not merely to be executed, but to be stoned to death.”51

Islamists have hardly been the only critics of Dayton and the security forces. Last year, in an Op-Ed entitled “Jericho’s Stasi,” Bassem Eid, head of the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group, wrote, “I would like to suggest that General Dayton not just train agents in the use of weapons, beating and torture…but also train them how to behave among their own people.”52 The National Security Forces trained by Dayton are not authorized to make arrests, but they regularly lead joint operations with Palestinian security services whose senior leaders have been trained by the USSC, and that have, according to Human Rights Watch and Palestinian human rights groups, practiced torture.53 A year into Fayyad’s first term, Mamdouh al-Aker, then head of the PA’s human rights organization, spoke of the government’s “militarization” and asserted that “a state of lawlessness had shifted to a sort of a security state, a police state.”54

Charges of authoritarianism have intensified since. Abbas, whose term expired during the war in Gaza, has been ruling by presidential decree. There has been no legislature since June 2007, and judicial rulings are frequently ignored by the security services. Fayyad, for all his commitment to accountability and transparency, has repeatedly been found in polls to have less legitimacy than the Hamas prime minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, and oversees a government that in a recent Global Integrity Index tied with Iraq as the sixth most corrupt in the world.55

In other respects, too, the PA’s practices have come under severe criticism. According to Sha’wan Jabarin, the director of the Palestinian human rights group al-Haq, torture has in recent months again become routine. In polls taken since Fayyad took office, West Bank residents have consistently reported feeling less safe than Gazans, whose lives under Hamas rule are in many respects worse. The Ministry of Religious Affairs has dictated Friday sermons to be read by imams. Palestinian journalists, according to Amnesty International, were detained and threatened during the Gaza war for reporting on government suppression. The Palestinian Authority, since Fayyad became prime minister, has twice ranked lower in the Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index than any other Arab government. And Freedom House now gives the PA the same rating for political rights that it does for civil liberties—”not free”56

Fayyad has attempted to strengthen his credibility with Palestinians by participating in acts of “peaceful resistance”—demonstrations against Israel’s security wall and burnings of products made in Israeli settlements. But Sam Bahour, a Palestinian entrepreneur and advocate of civil rights, told me that the government’s recent decision “to adopt one small element” of an existing and more comprehensive boycott is mere “window dressing” meant to cover up “a heavy-handed security state whose primary goals are to keep Hamas and criticism of the government in check.” On August 25, when leftist and independent political parties held a rally against the direct talks with Israel that began one week later, it was violently broken up by PA security forces.57

Last winter and spring, the PA prepared for July municipal elections, which Hamas, citing political repression, announced it would boycott.58 Khalil Shikaki, the most prominent Palestinian pollster, told me that the purpose of the elections was “to further weaken Hamas and bolster the government’s legitimacy.” When Fatah’s internal divisions prevented it from agreeing on candidate lists, the PA canceled the elections, denying that it had done so because Fatah feared losing.59 But Sha’wan Jabarin told me that the government’s denial was not credible:

In May and June, we learned of tens or hundreds of cases where Hamas followers were questioned by the security forces about the municipal elections and asked if they want to run or not, if they want to vote or not, to whom they want to give their vote.

At his office in Ramallah, Shikaki said that because people in Gaza feel freer to express their political views to his staff, “We get more accurate reporting on how people voted in the last election in Gaza than we do here.”60

In his report circulated among senior White House and military staff earlier this year, Colonel Dermer wrote, “While Israelis and [US] officials view recent PA successes in the field rather myopically as a win against terror, wary Palestinians view them as new [PA] regime protection.” A shortcoming of US efforts, he believes, “is the undefined nature of the USSC mission and its desired end state. Is the aim for the PA to take on and defeat Hamas militarily? To seek vengeance for the loss of Gaza? To maintain order on Israel’s behalf? Or is it to lay the security groundwork for a free and independent democratic Palestinian state?” Ghandi Amin, a director at the Independent Commission for Human Rights, a PA ombudsman, told me, “I have no hope for the Fayyad plan. I look on the ground and see only an increased role for security agencies.”

In October, Dayton will retire and be replaced by a three-star Air Force general, Michael Moeller. During the next year, Moeller is scheduled to receive the USSC’s largest ever appropriation.61 His task, as the deadlines for both the Fayyad plan and the end of Israeli–Palestinian negotiations approach, will be to advance two irreconcilable goals: building a Palestinian force that can guarantee Israeli security while also lessening the perception that the US is firmly supporting what many residents of the West Bank, like the independent politician Mustafa Barghouti, have come to describe not as one occupation but two.62

—September 16, 2010

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Jerusalem Fund.

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1 For an excellent report on Palestinian security reform, see "Squaring the Circle: Palestinian Security Reform Under Occupation," International Crisis Group, September 7, 2010.

2 "Fayyad: Jews Can Be Equal Citizens in a Palestinian State," Haaretz, July 5, 2009.

3 For an example of the sort of approbation Fayyad receives, see several recent columns by Roger Cohen, who has called Fayyad "the most important phenomenon in the Middle East," and Thomas Friedman, who has coined a term for the prime minister’s brand of "transparent, accountable administration and services"—"Fayyadism"—which he thinks "the most exciting new idea in Arab governance ever." Roger Cohen, "Beating the Mideast’s Black Hole," The International Herald Tribune, April 27, 2010; Thomas Friedman, "Green Shoots in Palestine," The New York Times, August 4, 2009.

4 Akiva Eldar, "A Day in the Life of the Palestinian Ben-Gurion," Haaretz, February 11, 2010.

5 Fadi Elsalameen, "Fayyad: ‘Build, Build Despite the Occupation,’" The Palestine Note, July 30, 2010.

6 Merav Michaeli, "Lieberman: Israel’s Gestures to Palestinians Met with ‘Slaps in the Face,’" Haaretz, May 13, 2010.

7 Fadi Elsalameen, "Fayyad: ‘Build, Build Despite the Occupation.’"

8 Much has been made of a report by the International Monetary Fund stating that real GDP in the West Bank grew by 8.5 percent in 2009. For a source arguing that the IMF’s report of West Bank economic growth is greatly exaggerated, see Bassim S. Khoury, "Putting the Palestinian ‘Carriage Behind the Horse,’" ForeignPolicy.com, July 1, 2010.

9 "Measures Taken by Israel in Support of Developing the Palestinian Economy, the Socio-Economic Structure, and the Security Reforms," Report of the Government of Israel to the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, April 13, 2010.

10 "2009 Annual Summary—Data and Trends in Palestinian Terrorism," Israeli Security Agency, 2009. See also previous Israeli Security Agency reports and "Four Years of Conflict: Israel’s War Against Terrorism," Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, October 3, 2004.

11 On the size of the NSF, see the estimates made in "Palestinian Authority: US Assistance Is Training and Equipping Security Forces, but the Program Needs to Measure Progress and Faces Logistical Constraints," Government Accountability Office, May 2010; and "Squaring the Circle: Palestinian Security Reform Under Occupation." The number used in this piece falls between the figures provided in those two reports and represents a slight adjustment, presented to me by a spokesman for EUPOL COPPS (the European Union Police Mission for the Palestinian Territories) in April 2010, of a previous estimate made by US officials. See "West Bank: Palestinian Security Forces," US Security Coordination Road Warrior Team, June 2008.

12 These courses are open to members of each of the seven security services: the National Security Forces, Presidential Guard, Civil Police, Civil Defense, and three intelligence services—Military Intelligence, General Intelligence, and Preventive Security.

13 "Palestinian Authority: US Assistance Is Training and Equipping Security Forces, but the Program Needs to Measure Progress and Faces Logistical Constraints."

14 "Palestinian Authority: US Assistance Is Training and Equipping Security Forces, but the Program Needs to Measure Progress and Faces Logistical Constraints."

15 The State Department, however, expects the forces to be deployed in only nine governorates, with one battalion as a reserve force. (The PA security sector treats the governorates of Jenin and Tubas as a single unit.) See "US Security Assistance to the Palestinian Authority," Congressional Research Service, January 8, 2010; and "Squaring the Circle," International Crisis Group, September 7, 2010, p. 11.

16 Dayton served alongside the national security adviser, General James Jones, who was special envoy for Middle East security in 2007–2008; wrote a glowing blurb for a recent book coauthored by Dennis Ross, a senior director at the National Security Council and special adviser to the President; and has given presentations to influential senators, congressmen, and interest groups visiting Israel.

17 "Squaring the Circle: Palestinian Security Reform Under Occupation."

18 "West Bank Movement and Access Update," United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Occupied Palestinian Territory, June 2010.

19 Colonel Philip J. Dermer, "Trip Notes on a Return to Israel and the West Bank: Reflections on US Peacemaking, the Security Mission, and What Should Be Done," Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 39, No. 3 (Spring 2010).

20 James Kitfield, "United They Fall; Divided They Stand," National Journal, March 28, 2009.

21 Not long after Ward’s arrival, the Palestinian minister of interior complained to the legislature that his and Ward’s reform efforts were "torpedoed" by the security forces and the foreign intelligence services that paid them. Jarat Chopra, a former PLO adviser who headed a group that served as the USSC’s operational arm, told me, "Ward’s largest challenges came from Israel and the CIA, both of which, in protecting their relationships with Palestinian security chiefs, impeded reform and encouraged the fiefdom mentality that Arafat had cultivated among his more than one dozen rivalrous security services." See Pinhas Inbari and Dan Diker, "The Murder of Musa Arafat and the Battle for the Spoils of Gaza, " Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, October 10, 2005. See also Khaled Abu Toameh, "PA-Sponsored Gunmen Abet Anarchy," The Jerusalem Post, June 14, 2005.

22 Arafat’s sixty-five-year-old cousin, Musa Arafat, a former head of military intelligence, was dragged in pajamas from his home and shot fifteen times outside the offices of the Preventive Security Organization, the chief Palestinian recipient of CIA assistance, long headed by his rival, Mohammad Dahlan.

23 "Palestinians, Israel, and the Quartet: Pulling Back from the Brink," International Crisis Group, Middle East Report No. 54, June 13, 2006, p. 7. "Could you issue a presidential decree that says, ‘I hereby say that this force—Force 17—is no longer under the minister of interior’?" Elliott Abrams told me. "But the question was always more legal and formal. In the real world, we—Abbas, Fatah, the PA, the PLO—were in control the whole time."

24 Deployments were met with counter-deployments, followed by clashes, assasinations, a more than doubling of M-16 prices, and self-imposed curfews in Gaza. See Adam Entous and Haitham Tamimi, "Hamas, Abbas Rivalry Spurs Palestinian Arms Race," Reuters, June 8, 2006; Khaled Abu Toameh, "‘This Must End Before It’s Like Iraq,’" The Jerusalem Post, December 20, 2006.

25 Adam Entous, "Abbas Builds Up Forces Amid Palestinian Crisis," Reuters, October 5, 2006. David Welch, a former assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs who helped oversee the Dayton mission until December 2008, told me, "We were essentially trying to carve an uneasy middle ground between cleaning the security forces up and defeating the enemy." Leaked documents—published by a Jordanian newspaper and drafted, Welch told me, by Dayton—state that between December 7, 2006 and February 28, 2007, basic training had been initiated for 3,700 security personnel in Gaza and for 1,400 security personnel in the West Bank. In addition, the documents state, vetting and selection had been initiated for 15,000 national security personnel in Gaza and for 5,000 in the West Bank.

See David Rose, "The Proof Is in the Paper Trail," Vanity Fair, March 5, 2008. General Mohammad Araj, the Dayton-trained NSF commander of Hebron, told me that his battalion began training in 2006. A senior Bush administration official told me, "The Egyptians and Jordanians provided material support, while the biggest financial backers were the Emiratis. For a time, the Saudis also provided funding."

26 "Political Office Leader Khalid Mashal Speech: No Way We Will Bend to US, Israeli & Fateh Pressure to Be Subservient to the Zionists—Fateh Leaders in an Uproar," Palestine News Network, April 22, 2006. By the fall of 2006, the Israeli daily Haaretz had reported that Dayton planned to push Abbas to confront Hamas in Gaza: Welch and Abrams, on a visit to Israel in early November, had "arrived with an ambitious plan that was formulated by Lieutenant General Keith Dayton.... The United States wants to push Abu Mazen into a military confrontation in Gaza, which will topple the Hamas government." Aluf Benn, "Words, Words, Words," Haaretz, November 2, 2006.

27 "A Palestinian State in Two Years: Interview with Salam Fayyad," Journal of Palestine Studies, Autumn 2009.

28 Alvaro de Soto, "End of Mission Report," May 2007. A week before Mecca, de Soto wrote, "the US envoy declared twice in an envoys’ meeting in Washington how much ‘I like this violence.’" "I did say that," Welch told me. "But what I also said was, ‘Were there no violence, the good guys would already have capitulated.’" The day after the national unity government was formed, Abbas appointed as national security adviser Hamas’s loathed rival, Muhammad Dahlan. "We can never forget that this was the man who burnt our beards and tortured us," said the Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar. The Zahar quote can be found in Beverley Milton-Edwards and Stephen Farrell, Hamas (Polity, 2010), p. 280.

At the end of April 2007, a Jordanian newspaper published leaked US documents—see endnote 25—outlining a strategy to collapse the national unity government, bolster Fatah, and eliminate Hamas’s new security force. Hamas officials would later say that these plans, together with the arrival from Egypt of troops trained under Dayton, prompted them to go on the offensive in Gaza in late spring. Originally published online in Arabic by al-Majd, April 2007 and published soon after in English by a blog called Missing Links.

See Rose, "The Proof Is in the Paper Trail." See also "After Gaza," International Crisis Group, Middle East Report No. 68, August 2, 2007, p. 11; and comments by Mahmoud Zahar and Fawzi Barhoum in David Rose, "The Gaza Bombshell," Vanity Fair, April 2008.

29 Ibrahim Barzak, "Hamas Kills 7 in Gaza Border Clash," Associated Press, May 15, 2007.

30 "US Assistance to the Palestinians," Hearing before the Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, House of Representatives, 110th Congress, May 23, 2007.

31 Paul McGeough, Kill Khalid (New Press, 2009), p. 381.

32 David Wurmser, a Middle East adviser to Vice President Cheney, went so far as to say that "what happened wasn’t so much a coup by Hamas but an attempted coup by Fatah that was pre-empted before it could happen." See Rose, "The Gaza Bombshell." See also the quotes from John Bolton, the former US ambassador to the UN, in the same article: "Having failed to heed the warning not to hold the elections, they tried to avoid the result through Dayton." Several Bush administration officials told me, however, that Wurmser and Bolton did not have much influence over the policy they criticized.

33 "Ruling Palestine II: The West Bank Model?," International Crisis Group, Middle East Report No. 79, July 17, 2008, p. 4.

34 Mohammed Najib, "Palestinian Officers Graduate from Jordanian Special Ops Training Course," Jane’s Defence Weekly, May 2, 2008.

35 Counterterror operations conducted by the Israeli army were also responsible for the improved security. In February 2008, Major-General Gadi Shamni, then head of Israel’s Central Command, told President Shimon Peres, "Without the massive IDF presence in the West Bank, Hamas would take over the institutions and apparatuses of the Palestinian Authority within days."

36 The Dimona attack was supported by 77 percent of Palestinians and the Jerusalem attack by 84 percent. "Palestinian Public Opinion Poll No. 27," Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, March 24, 2008. ↩

37 Nahum Barnea, "Last Chance," Yedioth Ahronoth, September 19, 2008; "Shocking Details of PA-Israeli security meetings," Palestine Times, September 29, 2008; Jon Elmer, "A Prescription for Civil War," Al-Jazeera, February 8, 2010.

38 "Hebron: Willful Abandonment by Security Forces," B’Tselem, December 10, 2008. Ethan Bronner, "Israeli Troops Evict Settlers in the West Bank," The New York Times, December 4, 2008. "Olmert condemns settler ‘pogrom,’" BBC, December 7, 2008.

39 Jared Malsin, "Witnesses: Israeli Police, Soldiers ‘Deeply Involved’ in Settler Attacks," Ma’an News Agency, December 7, 2008. Tony Karon and Aaron J. Klein, "Israeli Settler Youth on the Rampage in Hebron," Time, December 5, 2008.

40 Robert Blecher, "Operation Cast Lead in the West Bank," Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 38, no. 3(Spring 2009). A recent International Crisis Group report states, "In Hebron [during the war in Gaza] a bystander videotaped the Palestinian brigade commander (NSF) beating an unarmed Hamas affiliate with a cane. See "Squaring the Circle: Palestinian Security Reform Under Occupation."

41 Lieutenant General Keith Dayton, "Peace through Security: America’s Role in the Development of the Palestinian Authority Security Services," Program of the Soref Symposium, Michael Stein Address on US Middle East Policy, Washington Institute for Near East Policy, May 7, 2009.

42 Michaeli, "Lieberman: Israel’s Gestures to Palestinians Met with ‘Slaps in the Face.’"

43 Dayton, "Peace through Security: America’s Role in the Development of the Palestinian Authority Security Services."

44 Mohammed Najib, "Palestinian Authority Seeks Changes in Security Training," Jane’s Defence Weekly, August 5, 2009; and "Palestinian Authority to Opt Out of US Training Programme," Jane’s Defence Weekly, March 17, 2010.

45 "Palestinian Public Opinion Poll No. 31," Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, December 22, 2008. "Massive Hamas Demonstrations Denounce Beitawi Shooting as ‘Assassination Attempt,’" Ma’an News Agency, April 19, 2009.

46 For the strafing of Beitawi’s car, see "Car of PLC Member Fired upon by Unknown Persons in Nablus," Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, September 4, 2008. For Beitawi’s chairmanship of the Palestinian Islamic Scholars Association, see Matthew Levitt, Hamas: Politics, Charity, and Terrorism in the Service of Jihad (Yale University Press, 2006), p. 102.

47 "Hamas Sheikh Banned from Delivering Sermons," Ma’an News Agency, August 16, 2010. One son was arrested in July and another in September. See "PA Night Raids Target 2 Leaders," Ma’an News Agency, September 12, 2010; and "Source: 20 Hamas leaders detained, funds seized," Ma’an News Agency, July 31, 2010.

48 "20,000 attend funeral for slain Nablus Fatah men," Ma’an, December 26, 2009. "Squaring the Circle: Palestinian Security Reform Under Occupation."

49 Halfway through the cartoon, Balool offers a white dove to an Orthodox Jewish settler who before his eyes has murdered and drunk the blood of Palestinian children. See "New AntiSemitic Animated Film Vilifies the Palestinian Authority—PA Security Forces Help Stereotypical Blood-Drinking Jews," Middle East Media Research Institute, January 1, 2010. Video; transcript.

50 For Abbas’s statement, see "Transcript of Interview with Mahmoud Abbas," WAFA (Ramallah), January 1, 2010, Open Source Document GMP20100102061003 (English translation from Arabic), as cited in "US Security Assistance to the Palestinian Authority," Congressional Research Service, January 8, 2010, p. 30.

51 "Sheik Al-Qaradhawi Suggests that Mahmoud Abbas Should Be Stoned to Death and Is Rebuked by PA Minister of Religious Endowments," Middle East Media Research Institute, January 7, 2010.

52 Bassem Eid, "Jericho’s Stasi," The Jerusalem Post, June 24, 2009.

53 However, Jari Kinnunen, the lead police adviser of EUPOL COPPS, the European Union Police Mission for the Palestinian Territories, told me, "All of the Palestinian security services are making arrests. But not all have the authority to do so." Another reason the NSF bears some responsibility for the practices of other security services is that one of its officers is always the "local area commander" in each governorate, with overall security responsibility. Human Rights Watch has condemned foreign donors for failing to "criticize serious human rights abuses by the forces they support," and the deputy commander of Palestinian Military Intelligence has said, "The malpractices of the Palestinian government and its security apparatuses reflect negatively on Fatah’s reputation on the Palestinian street." "Internal Fight," Human Rights Watch, July 29, 2008. "Hamas and Fatah Split Their Differences," Jane’s Foreign Report, March 12, 2009.

54 "Palestinian Group Accuses Hamas, Fatah of Abusing Human Rights," Reuters, May 27, 2008.

55 On the relative legitimacy of the two governments, see "Palestinian Public Opinion Poll #27," Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, March 24, 2008, and "Palestinian Public Opinion Poll #31," Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, March 5–7, 2009. On corruption rankings, see "Global Integrity Report 2008, West Bank," Global Integrity, 2008.

56 Civilians are regularly tried in military courts, and the PA has dissolved elected municipal councils controlled by Hamas. See "Palestinian Authority, Amnesty International Report 2010"; and "The Detention of Civilians by Palestinian Security Agencies With a Stamp of Approval by the Military Judicial Commission," Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights, December 2008.

On feelings of security in Gaza and the West Bank, see "Palestinian Public Opinion Poll No. 31" and other recent polls by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research.

On the Ministry of Religious Affairs dictating sermons, see, for example, "Qaradawi slams Abbas," Al-Ahram, January 21–27, 2010. On press freedom, see Reporters Without Borders, "Press Freedom Index 2007" and "Press Freedom Index 2008." On Freedom House’s rating, see "Palestinian Authority-Administered Territories, Freedom in the World 2010."

57 "PA Forces Assault Press and Rights Workers at Anti-talks Protest," Ma’an News Agency, August 28, 2010.

58 Khaled Abu Toameh, "Hamas to boycott W. Bank elections," The Jerusalem Post, May 24, 2010.

59 "Controversy over elections decision continues," Ma’an News Agency, June 11, 2010. At Fatah headquarters in April, Muhammad Madani, a member of Fatah’s Central Committee, told me the elections were not meant to help Fatah, all of whose troubles, he stressed, were over.

60 Government repression, including in its most violent forms, is a growing problem, according to Jabarin. He said that he had been promised by Fayyad last September that the security services—over whom the prime minister said he had "full authority"—would put an end to torture. But after a lull last winter, Jabarin said, "