by Arlene Kushner and David Bedein
It has been reported that U.S. President Barack Obama recently pressed Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu to continue the American program for helping the Palestinian Authority upgrade its security forces
That program in question began in March 2005, with the establishment of a U.S. Security Coordinator Team, headed by Lt. General Keith Dayton. Plans called for selected PA National Security Force troops to be trained and equipped by the United States. Presumably, over time, the old PLO militia would be transformed into a professional force that would help to build a nation.
Five years later, with millions of dollars and much effort having been expended on this on-going program, cogent reasons for doubting its wisdom present themselves.
Major-General (res.) Ya’akov Amidror-former head of the IDF's Research and Assessment Division- suggested last year that Americans may be acting with “a certain naivete,” attempting to fulfill their dreams [for peace] while ignoring pertinent facts. Concurring, an Arab journalist with connections to the PA has stated forthrightly that, “To expect political fruits from this is a mistake-an illusion.”
One of the more serious questions that has surfaced concerns the loyalty of the troops that are being trained. General Dayton says they are loyal to “the Palestinian flag, and the Palestinian people.” Palestinian society, however, is founded on traditional Arab culture, whose first allegiance is to the clan (hamula), and not the nation.
Dr. Mordecai Kedar, research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar Ilan University, observes, “...when (not if) there will be domestic problems in the PA/Palestinian State these people will be loyal primarily to their clan rather than to the state, since they will never shoot their brothers or cousins...”
The role that Hamas might play vis-à-vis these forces is a cause of alarm. PA troops being trained are expected to stand against Hamas, so that it cannot take over in Judea and Samaria.
Yet a proposal for a “unity government” that would forge a Fatah-Hamas coalition remains on the table.
JINSA, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs in Washington DC, has voiced strong reservations about the wisdom of U.S. training of a Palestinian security force without a clear understanding of the authority to which that force would ultimately answer. It is within the realm of possibility that the very PA troops expected to contain Hamas might ultimately be commanded by Hamas. After all, that is precisely what occurred in Gaza, where we witness the Hamas armed forces brandishing American weapons.
Meanwhile, the fear that Palestinian troops may turn their weapons on the IDF stems from the precedent of what occurred with the outbreak of the second Intifada ten years ago, when Palestinian troops that had been nurtured and trained by the US and even by the IDF engaged in a full scale armed rebellion against Israel.
Indeed, only last week, The Palestinian Authority issued an official report, funded by the American government and by the European Union, which indicates that the the Palestinian security forces had risen to that of a "pre-army." level That report, available HERE, published by the Palestine Center for Policy and Social Research, mentions that the PA armed forces have been significantly professionalized under the U.S. military aid program, which, over the past 18 months, has trained five Palestinian battalions, under the framework of a U.S.-sponsored training in a four-month course held in Jordan”. The report states that that the United States has increased funding for PA security forces and plans to allocate more than $100 million over the next year.
In other words, were PA troops, in frustration and anger, to turn on Israel, they would do so with a new-found competency, thanks to the intense training they are being provided by the U.S.
Perhaps the time has come for Prime Minister Netanyahu to recall that a major stipulation of his plan for a Palestinian State that he presented at Bar Ilan University on June 14th, 2009 was that "In any peace agreement, the territory under Palestinian control must be disarmed, with solid security guarantees for Israel"
See this story at Israel Behind the News