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by Jason Ditz and General Joe
Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011 at 6:41 PM
"Meanwhile, yesterday’s “impromptu” attack on an al-Jazeera office in the West Bank turns out to have been anything but, as local journalists confirmed that the people leading the attackers were PA police officers wearing civilian clothes.
PA negotiator Saeb Erekat sought further action against al-Jazeera, insisting they were guilty of inciting violence against him and his family for reporting his involvement in past negotiations, including comments that seemed to eschew the right of return."
The PA is and arm of Imperialism/Zionism: Latest leaked news follows:
As Papers Continue to Leak, Palestinian Officials Rail at al-Jazeera
'Protesters' Who Attacked Office Were Police in Civilian Clothes
by Jason Ditz, January 25, 2011
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As the Palestinian Papers continue to leak out, and continue to reveal the unseemly policies of the Palestinian Authority, PA officials are blasting al-Jazeera for its role in the leak and insisting all of the information, despite being confirmed repeatedly by Israeli and Western officials, are lies made up by the Qatari government to embarrass them.
Indeed, PA President Mahmoud Abbas held a rally today where protesters burned posters of the Qatari Emir, and told them that al-Jazeera had faked all of the documents to trick Palestinians. He was greeted with a chorus of cheers.
Meanwhile, yesterday’s “impromptu” attack on an al-Jazeera office in the West Bank turns out to have been anything but, as local journalists confirmed that the people leading the attackers were PA police officers wearing civilian clothes.
PA negotiator Saeb Erekat sought further action against al-Jazeera, insisting they were guilty of inciting violence against him and his family for reporting his involvement in past negotiations, including comments that seemed to eschew the right of return.
The Palestine Papers
The al-Madhoun assassination
Documents include handwritten notes of 2005 exchange between PA and Israel on plan to kill Palestinian fighter in Gaza.
Among the documents are notes, handwfritten in Arabic, revealing an exchange in 2005 between the PA and Israel on a plan to kill a Palestinian fighter named Hassan al-Madhoun, who lived in the Gaza strip.
Al-Madhoun (born 1973) was a leading figure within the Al Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade, a movement aligned to Fatah, which at that stage still held power in Gaza. Al-Madhoun had been accused by Israel of planning deadly bombings at Israel’s Ashdod port and the Qarni crossing between Gaza and Israel.
In a joint committee meeting on fugitives in mid-2005 in Tel Aviv between Shaul Mofaz, the then-Israeli defence minister, and Nasser Youssef, the PA minister of interior, the PA was asked to kill al-Madhoun.
Mofaz: “[…] Hassan Madhoun, we know his address and Rasheed Abu Shabak [chief of the Preventative Security Organisation 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: “We gave instructions to Rasheed [Abu Shabak] and will see.”
Mofaz: “Since we spoke, he has been planning an operation, and that's four weeks ago, and we know that he wants to strike Qarni or Erez [another border crossing between Gaza and Israel]. He is not Hamas and you can kill him.”
Youssef: “We work, the country is not easy, our capabilities are limited, and you haven't offered anything.”
Mofaz: “I understand that nothing has been accomplished in the [Gaza] Strip.”
Some four months after this meeting, on November 1, 2005, al-Madhoun was killed in his car by a missile fired from an Israeli Apache helicopter over the skies of Gaza. The attack also killed a wanted Hamas activist and wounded three other people.
The very next day, Mofaz, who by that time was in Washington, pledged to ease the lives of Palestinians and to pursue peacemaking with President Abbas.
Demanding a demilitarized state
Israeli negotiators demanded to keep their troops in the West Bank and control over Palestinian airspace.
Alastair Crooke: The limits of autonomy
The accumulation of restrictions under the rubric "demilitarization" amounts to nothing more than a new occupation.
Robert Grenier: A letter to the Israeli people
The US president should write that the US "must withdraw from the peace process."
"We want to deal with President Abbas," Mofaz said after meeting with Condoleezza Rice, the then-US Secretary of State, before going to the White House to confer with Stephen Hadley, the then-national security adviser.
"We are waiting to see how the Palestinian Authority will deal with terrorist groups," the Israeli minister said.
The Palestine Papers appear to reveal two primary motives for the Palestinian Authority’s collaboration with Israel and their crackdown on dissent.
Firstly, it serves to maintain the movement’s political supremacy at a time when it is being questioned. Secondly, it is an attempt to signal to the US that it wants to remain a trusted partner in peace talks, regardless the costs.
Saeb Erekat, the PA’s chief negotiator acknowledged the cost of gaining US approval and Israeli trust, in a meeting on September 17, 2009 with David Hale, the deputy US Middle East envoy.
Erekat: 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.
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.
The Palestine Papers show how the Al Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade, once the spearhead of action against the Israeli occupation, has been transformed into a body that helps maintaining it.
During the Annapolis talks in 2008, Ahmed Qurei, the former Palestinian prime minister also known as Abu Ala, and his Israeli counterpart Tzipi Livni, discussed collaboration between the brigade and the Israeli security forces.
“Al Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade is part of the Fatah movement and they agreed to be part of the current security apparatus, even though this was not my position when I was a prime minister. I wanted the Brigade to remain as it was to confront Hamas,” Qurei told Livni.
With the common goal of destroying Hamas, the Palestine Papers reveal the extent to which the PA, the US and Israel were willing to work together, and the extent to which the PA linked the fate of Hamas with its own political survival.
“[…] reaching an agreement is a matter of survival for us. It’s the way to defeat Hamas,” Erekat told Marc Otte, the EU negotiator, in June 2008.
Earlier that year, on January 22, Qurei told Livni; “We’ll defeat Hamas if we reach an agreement, and this will be our response to their claim that gaining back our land can be achieved through resistance only.”
Erekat: "I can't stand Hamas"
For Fatah, the Annapolis process seems to have been as much about crushing Hamas as about ending Israel's occupation.
The Annapolis process was meant to be a round of peace talks aimed at reaching an agreement to solve the decades-long Palestinian-Israeli conflict. But instead of focusing on resolving the core issues at hand, why did Palestinian negotiators spend so much time during the meetings denigrating their political rivals, Hamas?
Controlling the mosques
The Palestine Papers reveal that Fatah was obsessed with maintaining political supremacy over Hamas, with Israel’s cooperation, especially following the 2006 electoral victory of the Islamist movement. Documents obtained by Al Jazeera also show the extent to which the Palestinian Authority cracked down on Hamas institutions to weaken the group and strengthen its own relationship with Israel.
At the height of negotiations, on April 7, 2008, Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni was unequivocal in summing up Israel’s policy: “Our strategic view is to strengthen you and weaken Hamas.”
Working with Israel to weaken Hamas also appeared to be in the Palestinian Authority’s interest. During a May 6, 2008 security meeting between Yoav Mordechai, the head of the Israeli army civil administration in the West Bank, and Hazem Atallah, the head of the Palestinian Civil Police, Hamas was a prominent subject of discussion.
Yoav Mordechai: How is your fight against “civilian” Hamas: the officers, people in municipalities, etc. This is a serious threat.
Hazem Atallah: I don’t work at the political level, but I agree we need to deal with this.
Yoav Mordechai: Hamas needs to be declared illegal by your President. So far it is only the militants that are illegal.
Atallah: There is also the request for tear gas canisters. You previously gave us these back in 96.”
Yoav Mordechai: We gave some to you for Balata 2 weeks ago. What do you need them for?
Atallah: Riot control. We want to avoid a situation where the security agencies may be forced to fire on unarmed civilians.
Never mind that tear gas canisters have proven that they can be just as deadly as live bullet rounds, the exchange also foreshadows a crackdown on Hamas’ social institutions in the West Bank.
PLO chief negotiator Saeb Erekat made his contempt for his rivals known in 2007, when he told the Belgian foreign minister Karel de Gucht, “I can’t stand Hamas or their social programs.”
"The way to defeat Hamas"
By September 17, 2009, Erekat was bragging to U.S. officials that the PA had complete control over “zakat” committees, or Muslim charities, in the West Bank, as well as the weekly Friday sermons.
Qurei to Israel: "Occupy the crossing"
Top PA negotiator offers to allow Israel to reoccupy the Philadelphi corridor on the Gaza-Egypt border.
Ali Abunimah: Cutting off a vital connection
Palestinian officials were often more concerned with applying pressure to Hamas than easing a humanitarian crisis.
“We have invested time and effort and even killed our own people to maintain order and the rule of law,” Erekat said. “The Prime Minister is doing everything possible to build the institutions. We are not a country yet but we are the only ones in the Arab world who control the Zakat and the sermons in the mosques. We are getting our act together.”
In 2007, Reuters reported that Fatah was “increasing pressure on ‘zakat’ charity committees that support the network of Islamic schools and health clinics which helped fuel Hamas's rise to power.” On one occasion, the news service reported, 20 gunmen stormed a dairy funded by such a zakat committee but were ultimately persuaded to leave.
At the time, Akram al-Rajoub, who headed the Preventive Security service in Nablus said, “There is absolutely no cooperation with Israel in our activities" but that claim is belied by the conversations documented in The Palestine Papers.
On February 11, 2008, Atallah presented the Israelis with a laundry list of actions the PA took against Hamas, and complained that Israeli actions in the West Bank city of Nablus the previous month were harmful. He was likely referring to the three-day incursion by the Israeli military, in which 40 Palestinians were injured and 20 detained. 70,000 residents of the city were placed under curfew.
“We made arrests, confiscated arms, and sacked security individuals affiliated with Hamas,” Atallah said, “but you keep on deterring our efforts, and this is what’s happening in Nablus.”
While security cooperation against Hamas and its institutions dominated some meetings, often Palestinian negotiators merely wanted to vent to their Israeli counterparts about their deep-seated desire to defeat their political opponents.
“Hamas must not feel that it is achieving daily victories, sometimes with Israel and sometimes with Egypt, and Al Jazeera Channel praises these victories,” Ahmed Qurei, a senior Palestinian negotiator, told Livni on February 4, 2008.
“I hope Hamas will be defeated, not military I mean because we didn’t try this; we didn’t engage in a civil war. President Abu Mazen was wise enough not to give orders to Fateh members to use arms, otherwise, we’d have had many casualties.”
According to the Palestine Papers, for Fatah, the Annapolis process seems to have been as much about crushing Hamas as it was about ending Israel’s occupation and establishing an independent, Palestinian state.
“We continue with a genuine process,” Saeb Erekat confided to European Union Special Representative Marc Otte on June 18, 2008, “reaching an agreement is a matter of survival for us. It’s the way to defeat Hamas.”
MI6 offered to detain Hamas figures
British government also provided financial support for two Fatah security forces linked to torture.
The Palestine Papers reveal that the British government played a significant role in equipping and funding the Palestinian security forces, several of which have been linked to torture and other abuses.
The "rendition plan"
More unbelievably, the UK’s MI-6 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.
Under the heading “degrading the capabilities of the rejectionist groups,” the MI-6 document suggests:
"... the disruption of their leaderships' communications and command and control capabilities; the detention of key middle-ranking officers; and the confiscation of their arsenals and financial resources held within the Occupied Territories. US and - informally - UK monitors would report both to Israel and to the Quartet. We could also explore the temporary internment of leading Hamas and PIJ figures, making sure they are welltreated, with EU funding."
An appendix to the document outlines how the British government might help the Palestinian Authority. It includes British plans to seize firearms and rockets from the West Bank and Gaza; to cut off funding to “rejectionist groups” like Hamas; and to reduce weapons smuggling through tunnels into Gaza.
PA questions Tony Blair's role
Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad wondered whether Quartet envoy's initiatives were too small to be helpful.
Alastair Crooke: Blair's "counterinsurgency surge"
Former British prime minister's support for Palestinian security forces contributed to decline of EU influence in "peace process."
Funding for the PA
It is difficult to say which of these ideas were actually put into practice. But two subsequent documents from the following year suggest that, at the very least, the British government provided funding for Palestinian security forces.
A document from the British foreign office provides “a synopsis of the project work that the UK is engaged in with the Palestinian Security Forces.” It documents hundreds of thousands of dollars in security assistance to the PA.
Of particular note are two ,000 allocations, one to the Preventive Security force, the other to the General Intelligence Service.
Both have been linked to widespread human rights abuses in the occupied territories. Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported in July 2008 that Preventive Security had carried out most of the arrests of Hamas activists in the West Bank. “Many of the arrests were unlawful,” the group reported, “and arrested individuals sometimes encountered maltreatment at the time of arrest or torture during interrogation.” General Intelligence was also linked to cases of torture.
“The most abusive forces, local groups say, are the Preventive Security or General Intelligence Service. Most of the abuses documented in this report were committed by one of those two forces,” HRW concluded.
In a statement to Al Jazeera, the British foreign office said it takes allegations of torture "extremely seriously."
[Foreign office minister Alistair] Burt raised the issue of human rights abuses when he met [Palestinian prime minister Salam] Fayyad last week and asked for a concrete assurance that allegations would be investigated and appropriate actions taken. PM Fayyad gave this."
And in Tunisia:
Tunisia Issues Warrant for Arrest of Ousted Leader
TUNIS — The interim government here has issued an international arrest warrant for the overthrown president, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, and members of his family for financial offenses, the justice minister said Wednesday, as protesters continued their call to rid the government of cabinet members connected to Mr. Ben Ali.
The warrant has been sent to Interpol. Meanwhile, Switzerland announced that it has blocked tens of millions of dollars in funds connected to the Ben Ali family, but did not provide further details.
In a country where it is novel for public officials to face a free press, the justice minister, Lazhar Karoui Chebbi, announced the warrant in a long monologue at the head of a conference table surrounded by throngs of journalists whose subsequent questions quickly descended into a shouting match. Mr. Chebbi was once allied with Mr. Ben Ali.
As the minister spoke, the chants of protesters calling for the release of political prisoners came in through the windows, while the families of prisoners thronged the steps to the ministry and the hall outside the room.
A small group of pro-government demonstrators called for calm, but army and police forces resorted to tear gas and shots in the air to hold back an antigovernment crowd of more than 1,000 people massed outside the prime minister’s offices. Some scaled the walls of government buildings, toppled a lamppost and nearly pulled a police officer out of his armored car.
But there were signs that the government’s crackdown was being carefully calibrated to avoid further energizing the opposition. The police cleared only a side street and left the protest in the square to continue, surrounded by army soldiers watching from the sidelines.
Many in the crowd were near exhaustion. Some had driven hundreds of miles to get to the protests by Tuesday morning; many had had little sleep. But excitement spread as a scheduled news conference by Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi neared, in the hope that he would announce an end to the dominance of the interim government by members of the old ruling party — including himself.
Government officials have insisted that only members of the old ruling party have the experience necessary to guide the country to free elections in six months, and they appear to be attempting to wait out the protests. Officials have suggested they are looking for a protest leader to emerge in order to negotiate an end to the impasse.
The protesters, meanwhile, say history gives them no reason to trust the same people who helped Mr. Ben Ali rule Tunisia for 23 years. "They must all go and let us build this country with our brains and our hands," said Amina Azouz, a Tunisian graduate student at the Sorbonne and online activist protesting outside the prime ministers office. “Please, leave us alone!”
In efforts to placate the demonstrators, the Tunisian government has put forward a plan to spend over 0 million to compensate those injured in the unrest, the families of people who were killed, and craftsmen and traders whose businesses have suffered during the revolt.
A week ago, government officials offered a toll of civilian casualties from the month of protests saying that 78 had died and 94 injured. There were also deaths among security forces, they said.
The confrontation seemed again to raise the question of what would satisfy protesters here whose example in recent days seemed to provide inspiration to antigovernment marchers in Egypt calling for the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak.
Demonstrators in Beirut, meanwhile, rallied Tuesday against Parliament’s election of a new prime minister backed by Hezbollah, and have helped fuel the impression of a region in turmoil.
On Tuesday in Tunis, after days of antigovernment protests, dozens marched in the capital to show their support for the interim government that replaced Mr. Ben Ali, pleading with their fellow citizens to give the temporary leadership time to hold elections.
But they remained vastly outnumbered by more than a thousand protesters demanding the dissolution of the government, angry at its continued domination by former members of Mr. Ben Ali’s ruling party.
The two groups scuffled briefly.
The state news agency also reported that another Tunisian had attempted to set himself on fire in the impoverished interior city of Gefsa. It was the first instance of an attempt at self-immolation since a peddler burned himself to death, setting off the country’s revolt. More than a dozen people in North Africa and the Middle East have set themselves on fire since the Tunisian revolution started.
There was also sporadic evidence that not all of the police were abiding by the interim government’s pledges to respect press freedoms. Moises Saman, a freelance photojournalist with the Magnum agency, working in Tunis for The New York Times, was mildly injured when he was assaulted by about a half-dozen police officers Tuesday evening at dusk. He was attempting to photograph a group of police officers beating a man in an alley.
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